Dear Sir/Madam:

I’m writing to you who control our government now–that is, the big corporations of the world. Let’s not pretend it is otherwise. Thanks to a system in which money buys elections, nearly all of our politicians are in your employ.

Thanks for wrecking everything.

If I were a Millennial, this might not surprise me or even be worthy of mention. They have grown up in the system as it exists now, and many of them are too cynical to fight. But I’m from Generation X, and we still thought we had a chance to make our own destinies. In recent years that’s become increasingly difficult.

Image RemovedI’m going to be frank. I’m a member of the intellectual elite. I’m not working class and I’m not poor, but those distinctions aren’t what they used to be. My father worked his way out of Depression-era Oklahoma to become a professor at Harvard. I was given the best education money could buy, because that’s what my parents valued. I never got a D or F in my life, and when I got a few Cs (trigonometry nearly killed me), I heard about it from my mother and father–they thought they knew what it took to get ahead in the world. I have degrees from Smith College and Harvard University. I speak 4 languages and can read a scientific paper. I run my own business and I’m raising two sons, who are good people, but their prospects are now quite poor.

The future my kids face will include a deteriorating national infrastructure, underfunded public schools full of stressed students and the traumatized poor, and a world of permanent wars started by my own country, mainly against people much worse off than ourselves. And worst of all, their future is jeopardized by your refusal to see that the Earth cannot take anymore plundering of resources.

Image RemovedThanks to your persistent denial, we have now used up the Future. Forty percent of the world’s wildlife has disappeared within my lifetime, and one third of all living things face extinction from climate change. You continue to believe that the "growth paradigm", whereby we endlessly expand human reach into the natural world, will bring prosperity to all. Or at least that’s what you claim…

I had to put away dreams and aspirations and devote my life to climate activism because of you. Not that I mind, really–I like a good fight–but the problem is it’s not working. We have tried all manner of tactics to get you to see that we can’t live this way: Public education, policy work, endless polite and rational conversations with our politicians. We even believed you when you said you would do better–implement greener practices, move away from fossil fuels and promote renewables. But that’s not happening, is it? You’re just pretending to do enough to save the planet in order to distract us.

So we’re taking things to the next level, I’m afraid. I got up early today to commit a minor crime in the spirit of Civil Disobedience, in service to the higher laws of science and the natural world. With my activist bestie, Chuck Collins, I painted a red line down a city street in my neighborhood, to draw attention to a fracked-gas pipeline that’s about to be laid down there by Spectra Energy–one of you. Thanks to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that’s in your employ, there was virtually no public process to include the community of Boston in the decision-making around this new and dangerous infrastructure. The pipeline will run highly-pressurized "natural" gas a few hundred feet past an active blasting quarry, and right by three public schools. It’s not my first action, and it won’t be my last, but really, there are things I’d rather be doing.

You have turned me into a petty criminal. I may be charged with vandalism, destruction of public property, and perhaps defamation (of Spectra Energy). I sit in meetings all week with activists ages 20-75 and plan actions, because we’ve all come to realize that you won’t listen, and that the laws that protect you are unjust.

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Andrée Zaleska and Chuck Collins turn themselves in.

So, parental units of the System, here we are, a bunch of delinquents, me and my friends. And we’re doing it on behalf of our own kids, the plants, the bees, the bats, the marshes and beaches and forests. Shall I go on? You made us. We tried so hard to be good, but it didn’t work. Nothing was enough for you. You had to take it all. We’re here to take it back.