Just a few minutes ago Climate Parents reached me with the news that the Senate voted this evening (rather than tomorrow as expected) and defeated the Keystone XL Pipeline.  By one vote. Yes, I know it will be back with the new Congress, and yes, this thing I dearly want to see defeated may well be built after all.

But that’s not what is on my mind. One particular part of this fight is. It’s a cousin to the accident victim’s ageless question, Why Me?

Many groups have worked hard the last, oh, this late at night just guessing two years, using virtually all volunteer hours, and personally the story I loved the most was the uniting of “Cowboys and Indians” in their ride on the capitol. But looking at only Climate Parents for a moment, I can’t help but pause at their account of their efforts mobilizing, writing letters, calling, staging sit-ins, and I don’t know whether to cheer or cry to think of the hours, the sacrifice of normal evenings, money, weekends, bedtime stories for the children, even sleep that you gotta know is behind their hard work. Why, oh why, is this life-on-hold, all-in push necessary, when we should have less onerous ways of being heard and democratically respected?

So my first reaction to the news of true grassroots effort is I’m sad to think of this human cost, and I want to ask why it is necessary when they are so much in the right. For the sake of this thread of thought, if you think they are wrong, hold that in abeyance for a moment. Because just on the face of it you/we should listen to any citizen reaction where the numbers and commitment and sacrifice are this big, and I’ll try to say the same to myself where I think a large group is wrong–listen. Just look at the mismatch: the personal sacrifice on one side of the scrum, and the comfort of fat salaries, bonuses, and corporate resources on the other side. Anyone should be able to see that there is something happening here, even if you don’t know what it is (thank you, Bob Dylan).

So then I can’t get stuck in sadness for the cost that goes into simple defense of our land (time that could be spent creating new well-being for all). Instead, I notice that people like the Climate Parents who come out of the individual consumer cocoons, and come together on common ground, are finding new energies, new strengths, new friends, brothers and sisters. . .this is changing things, whatever the outcome of the Pipeline battle. Maybe “Bowling Alone” has run its course.

Thank goodness. Getting past the Why is getting us deep into the How. And these people have answered the why and how the same way the eminent and humane business thinker Peter Block has: The Answer to How is Yes. They simply said, yes, we’ve got to do this.

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