Dearest Friends & Family,
The hours of daylight grow longer following the Winter Solstice (Dōngzhì, Saṅghamitrā, Yule) and from my past year of journeying with courageous people who are illuminating others along the way to the call of cultivating resistance with the precious time we share together, it is my hope that this message as well as my lengthy “2016 Year In Review: ” will help inform, inspire, and connect the people with whom I work as well as those with whom I hope to build with in the years to come. I do not expect emulation, but welcome evolutions in direct radical solidarity practice as well as carpooling. 😉
Since this is my first time sending you a message through our new system, I hope to be able to continue to report, share, and provide ways to support my work and especially the work of communities to whom I have the privilege of offering myself. Where possible, I have links to individual organizations so you can learn more directly. My greater desire is that you, your friends, and our extended circles of influence & trust may feel more prepared to participate directly in active campaigns of life-giving self-determining water-protecting prayerful action as well as efforts to organize beyond…I will attempt to speak of my personal experience regarding movement moments and interactions as best I can and to the extent that I can share. I will do my best to speak from my position outside of captive NGO organizing structures and also consistently affirm that I reserve the personal humility to change my mind as my analysis changes. If we can allow this of ourselves (to make mistakes, maintain love for oneself, and evolve with increasing grace), perhaps others will be able to admit faults and be embraced rather than be rejected based solely on a change of position, a shift from ignorance, our relationships with others, our affiliations with feuding organizations, etc. This is part of the work and the education of ourselves at present and the preparation of our youngest generations is not a passive happening.
Some lessons I wish to affirm and share:
To fellow Settler Nation friends in the United States: We are protesting on stolen land. The roots of our collective work on the symptoms of climate & environmental devastation are inextricably still connected to Indigenous genocide, slavery, and a false understanding of ‘democracy’ of this nation. I hope that the act of going to the camps at Standing Rocks has been a gateway to realization, not a novelty.Solidarity is a living expression of love, communication, consent, and sometimes ‘inconvenience’. Discomfort may be paralleled with the depth of solidarity practice, and can provide you with an entirely new approach to organizing & engaging with others.
The work of decolonization is not a passive practice, nor a perfect one. It is not a short-term experiment, as the malice of colonization has been an experiment lasting over 500 years in the so-called Americas.
I do not want to fight, I want to fight to ‘win’. Organizing without a long-term focus on the goals of abolition, liberation, perhaps even survival & survivance (Anishinaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor defines as Indigenous self-expression in any medium that tells a story about an active Native presence in the world now. Survivance is more than mere survival—it is a way of life that nourishes Indigenous ways of knowing) have increasingly fallen short when dealing with the Empire, White Supremacy, Climate Chaos, etc. What do we REALLY want? Who is ‘we’? “This is how we’ve always done it” and that is a philosophy requiring discernment based on our current situation.
As I continue in my understanding & work with Land Defenders & Water Protectors, I know that though the times ahead may seem daunting, I have faith in this process of decentralized (dissentralized) building across geographies, within watersheds, along pipeline project routes, between corporate power structures, beyond colonial borders, and through histories of religious & spiritual guidance.I will be in the Gulf South and Southeastern U.S. to begin 2017 with Water Protectors fighting multiple fossil fuel pipelines, and will allow my experiences to reveal & my allies to inform the creative routes of connection moving forward.
I thank you for your diligent work and encourage you to support our work by making a donation today.
With Great Love, Happy New Year!
Jimmy Betts, Community Supported Organizer
Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE)