I Hold These Truths: Taking a Stand

The Flag of the United States of the Environment
Image by T-Man Fresno via Flickr

In recent months, voices no less reasoned and prominent than Al Gore and Wendell Berry have suggested that there are causes worth putting yourself to some inconvenience and risk to protect.

This is an unfortunate and costly demand on Earthcare activists in a sad eight year period during which our national oversight agencies were more than willing to sell our natural heritage to the highest bidder. Whether that will change in the next administration remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, popular participation increases in an effort to put sand in the gears of the Lorax of corporate greed at the cookie jar of North America’s natural resources. And young people are not sitting idly by nor are they setting cars on fire or strapping themselves to bulldozers to get attention to worthwhile causes. Case in point, here’s a young man who took a stand–or rather, a bidder’s paddle.

He didn’t pour sugar into a bulldozer’s gas tank. He didn’t spike a tree or set a billboard on fire. But wielding only a bidder’s paddle, a University of Utah student just as surely monkey-wrenched a federal oil- and gas-lease sale Friday, ensuring that thousands of acres near two southern Utah national parks won’t be opened to drilling anytime soon.

Tim DeChristopher, 27, faces possible federal charges after winning bids totaling about $1.8 million on more than 10 lease parcels that he admits he has neither the intention nor the money to buy — and he’s not sorry.

“I decided I could be much more effective by an act of civil disobedience,” he said during an impromptu streetside news conference during an afternoon blizzard. “There comes a time to take a stand.”

And while we’re talking about young people understanding what’s at stake even as we live our daily lives at no small cost, I recommend you allow your children to watch this 7 minute animated “cartoon” that makes the connection between the choices they make to leave the lights and thePlaystation running 24/7 and what is happening to coal-bearing mountains. Admittedly, it’s a bit goofy as it targets a younger audience, so a green gorilla Yoda meets teenage mutant ninja superheros while brainworm villain Mini-Me powers the Lorax (Wormulator) that eats that tops off mountains.

“My Wormulator chops the rocks, making loads of watts per hour. So They get their precious energy, but it’s Me who gets the power!”

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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