Friday, August 02, 2013


Grandchildren's Walk, Saturday's Rally

Our walk ended with a lively march, escorted by the police, from St Stephen's Church to Lafayette Park, facing the White House. We were greeted by friendly supporters all along the route. Our message to the President was “Keep your promise” on the Keystone, XL Pipeline, something that recent remarks indicate he is inching towards. Our 75-odd marchers now numbered around 350, swelling to near 500 at the Park, where a lively crowd greeted us. So did a SWAT team, who were there to investigate a bomb threat. Our formal rally was thus delayed by almost an hour, but nobody left.

After the park was cleared and the policeman with the submachine gun who had greeted us left, we held the rally, featuring young folks from iMatter and the march organizers. Appropriately, the twin focus was upon youth and the over-65 generation, the grandparents. The most poignant pleas from the youth were from an Eskimo boy whose entire town had slid into the Arctic Sea due to erosion from Global Warming and a Navaho girl whose family had lost their farm to severe drought and total loss of their water. My young marching friend Alex was there to read from his rewrite of the Declaration as one of Energy Independence, and it was unfurled 175 feet to display the signatures of 75,000, including John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and yours truly. We were asked to solemnly pledge ourselves to massive reduction in use of fossil fuels, something we were demanding of our government and corporations. This gave me pause, as I've cut back to half the average American, but hit a wall a few years ago. I still fly airplanes, no matter the Prius, which drive more than ever from our remote rural base in the mountains. Busy lives, spewing carbon. But I raised my hand.

The Asheville Green Grannies sang smart lyrics to choice oldies, pointing fingers at the White House as they reminded the President of his promises (the biggest is his 2008 campaign promise: “Let us be the generation that finally frees itself from the tyranny of oil”). All three of the faithful Siler family spoke: young Leigh, repeating her wish that future children be able to enjoy the rich rural life she has; her father Mark, rousing us with all of our slogans, a surprising orator in our midst.

And then came Mahan, whose speech was an arrow straight into my heart. At 79, he was our oldest marcher (Leigh at 11 was the youngest). A retired Baptist preacher, he spoke eloquently about the responsibility of the Boomers present. We have unprecedented life expectancies and wealth – neither of which our grandchildren will have – and an unprecedented challenge. “Don't retire – RECOMMIT!” Then he gave us a fitting image for what was unfolding at this rally. He asked those under 19 to make a central circle, facing out to the rest of us. We reached our hands towards each other, some grabbing hold, others holding shoulders and backs, like a healing. He described two arcs, one of the children reaching up from the earth, a second of the over-65's rising to meet it, forming a Keystone.  

“They are not the Keystone, we are, at this place of meeting. Let's take back this lovely word.” His words and our action said it all.. Friends, may we all answer Mahan Siler's challenge and retake the Keystone, resting the whole butressed rainbow in God's everloving hands.

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