Standing Rock Protests Deserve Our Support

The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1963 soul-stirring ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” said something about protests that resonated deeply within me.  He wrote:
“All life is inter-related. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
What is happening in North Dakota with the government’s attempt to build  the Dakota Access pipeline is just wrong.   And wrong– all by itself– is enough of a moral imperative for people of good will to act.  Protests have always been an appropriate response to governmental bullying.
Dr. King recognized more than 50 years ago that the struggle for right action cannot– nor should it– be ignored because of geographical distance. We cannot afford to watch from the sidelines– simply because  the problem is rooted thousands of miles away from our backyards– as this game-changing issue of social justice unfolds before our very eyes.  As King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
And the pipeline matters. For at least three reasons:
First, it is a re-abandonment of the nation’s commitment to sustainable energy.  Continuing our dependency on fossil fuel comes at great cost to the environment– even if the GOP doesn’t believe in global warming.
Second, we are trampling on the sovereign rights of the Native American people.  The country has undoubtedly grown accustomed to violating treaties it signs with Native Americans.  That doesn’t excuse it, and certainly doesn’t make it right.  This is yet another invasion of their territorial rights– an actual act of war.  We wouldn’t be having this discussion if the treaty being violated talking was with France or Britain or Spain.
Third, putting a pipeline of any kind under the Missouri River, which is the only source of clean, drinking water for millions of people, is just a bad idea.  Pure and simple.
A quick visit to, and a search on ‘List of pipeline accidents in the U.S.,’ will give you some idea of the large number of times a leak-proof pipeline spilled its contents.
If the pipeline were to be built and then burst, it would be devastating to the river and to the people who depend upon it for life.
Now is the time.  You may not be able to do much.  Join an online protest group and send an email or letter to the President-elect. Send a donation to the cause through their GoFundMe account
You and I might not be personally and directly impacted by what goes on in North Dakota, but as Dr. King put it:
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”