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The Ladders, Then and Now, and Abbie and Ellie


(On Monday I was arrested after being perched with Paul Burman for four hours on a foot and a half wide ledge about 25 feet up over the main entrance to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in Silver Spring, Md. We had unfurled a banner which said, “Bush: Let NOAA Tell the Truth.” This was a reference to the actions since 2001 of Bush-appointed NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher and his political proteges. They have been consistently towing the Bush/Cheney line of denying the seriousness of global heating and suppressing NOAA scientists whose research shows otherwise.

(As I said in a statement distributed on Monday, “we must act to preserve our threatened environment, we must provide hope to our children and grandchildren and we must do our duty as American citizens. Those of us who understand the depth of the crisis we are entering must face our fears and take action commensurate with that understanding.”

It was hard,the first time,climbing 25 feetup our newly-bought 32-foot extension ladder,practicing behindthe CCAN buildingthe Friday beforethe Monday action.

Before this action I had a fear of heights, perhaps the result of falling from a pear treeas a kid, hitting my head on a ladder-on a ladder-knocked out unconscious,coming toon my couch at home with my dear mother- My late mother,my mother who loved me,who sacrificed for me,who gave me an example of what Micah meant when he said, “And what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God.”

–With my dear mother there to take me to the hospital for an overnight stay for my one day’s concussion.

I’ve been afraid of high places ever since.

So that first time,practicing on the ladder,I needed another emotion to overcome, or at least neutralize, that fear.

And so, as I climbed upand climbed down those 25 feet,again and again and again, I thought of Abbie, my four year old niece, and I thought of Ellie, her 1 ½ year old sister, whom I spent a weekend with two months ago, a wonderful time watching, playing and laughing with, thanks to my father who organized a weekend lake side reunion for his three children and their families.

But their world is threatened. It is an open question, at best, if they will have a futureworth living for, worth living in.

I believe this deeply.

And so I climbed, rung by rung, over and over, until my fear was lessened so that, on Monday morning, as the skies lightened, and the hour arrived, I was ready to ascend to the NOAA ledge.

And for four hours I felt not scared but liberated-almost at home, where I should be, with brother Paul Burman, as underneath us, and with news helicopters flying overhead, the drama unfolded.

Where I should be, where others should be, figuratively, if we are to prevent looming climate catastrophe, if we are to create a new and hopeful world.

I believe such a world is possible.

And we cannot let our fears keep us from doing what is necessary-whatever is necessary-to get to it.

Abbie and Ellie, Children everywhere, Future generations Need us now.

(More information on this action and the issues can be found at http://www.climateemergency.org.)

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