December 10, 2016

Now more than ever, Activism is Nourishment for Body & Spirit.

SuRu KXL arrest

The path to abundant health and happiness does not just consist of the right combination of fruits and vegetables.

I have discovered that good health requires many forms of non-caloric nourishment. Plenty of research shows that sleep, sunshine, fresh air, good friends and laughter have positive health benefits. I do my best to include all of these into my daily life, and I hope that you do too.

Taking it one step further, I believe that activism can have health benefits as well. In times like this, we need to bump up our level of activism more than ever before.

“Action is the antidote to despair.” ~ Joan Baez

My activist roots began with a fracking wake up call back in 2009 while facilitating a garden program at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. Witnessing the devastation to land, water and air from fracking changed my life. I continue working tirelessly to keep fracking and gas pipelines out of my home state of New York.

It has been an uphill battle, as we must fight our own government to stop fossil fuel projects that are invading our land. Staying involved in the fight for clean water, air and a livable future is energizing and provides great opportunities to meet cool people that I wouldn’t ordinarily meet in my day to day life.

Once I understood that personal health and planetary health were directly interconnected, I couldn’t fall back asleep. As a holistic health counselor, my focus on food evolved into a focus on the food system and farming. Once I got my hands dirty growing food, supporting community gardens, composting, and much more, I also began to understand on a deep level the importance of clean air, water and healthy soil. Veggie gardening and composting are forms of earth activism in my book. They are also a gateway to the revolution that is underway.

“Like water on the garden of activism, America’s surprise president brings a bounty of opportunity. The great issues of our time are now brightly illuminated and people are becoming more aware of them than ever, from sea to shining sea, from Standing Rock to Wall Street.” ~ Neil Young

These days, you’d have to be living under a rock not to know that climate change poses a major threat to our future. It can be distressing to consider the magnitude of the problem. We can no longer ignore the fact that our continued burning of fossil fuels is creating an unstable climate that won’t be able to support life as we know it for very much longer. We also can no longer be paralyzed with dread, we must start taking serious action.

Back in 2011, along with 1,253 others, I stood in front of the White House and was arrested in an act of non-violent civil disobedience to send a message to President Obama about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. That was a big turning point for me. Up until then, I had signed petitions and gave talks. Risking arrest and participating in a movement of resistance has a completely different energetic from signing online petitions. I highly recommend non-violent direct action in whatever form resonates for you. You don’t have to get arrested, but you do have to show up.

Resistance is fertile.

Brad Werner, a geophysicist from UC San Diego, made waves by including the importance of activism and resistance in his research on climate. “Is Earth F*cked?” was the title of his presentation. Many scientists and others have bumped up their level of activism and have participated in arrestable actions in attempts to draw attention to fossil fuel projects. NASA scientist James Hansen and University of Rhode Island physics professor Peter Nightingale are two that I admire.

Other forms of earth activism are more playful, incorporating art, music, humor and fun creative resistance. One of my favorites source for this lighthearted energy is the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, a NYC based radical performance community with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands.

One time in 2013, I was lucky to have the opportunity to be an extinct Golden Toad in a bank lobby while Billy delivered a fire and brimstone sermon about financing the poisoning of our planet.

For your own health, and for the health of our biosphere, I urge you to step up—join the revolution. Find an issue that resonates with you, and get active. Our future depends on it, and you’ll have fun too.




Author: Susan Rubin

Image: Courtesy of Author

Editor: Travis May

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