Letter: Earth Day action expresses radical hope

As one of the Earth Day 8, I planned to defend myself in Buncombe County District Court on Aug. 31 for second-degree trespassing on Earth Day, bringing attention to the fact that Raytheon, owner of the Pratt & Whitney plant, won’t go away and we can demand environmentally friendly businesses be invited to this area.

The climate I thought was generations into the future is happening now. On that Earth Day, I aligned myself with many others in Asheville and around the country who were standing up for people and the environment. On a hidden dirt road, we stopped a long line of huge trucks for two hours, stopping work as usual on the Raytheon plant, where they will be making one part for the F-35 stealth fighter plane.

There are 900 more acres that could be used for criminal, though legal, weapons creation. We were discouraging other businesses of this nature to come to WNC.

My defense of my civil resistance was based upon the six maxims in “Ethical Maxims for a Marginally Inhabitable Planet” by two medical ethics professors, David Schenck and Larry R. Churchill.  They each have extensive experience in hospice, neonatal intensive care units, refugee camps and disaster aftercare.

1. Work hard to grasp the immensity of the change. There are nine planetary boundaries, five of which are already crossed, according to the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Applied Economics Clinic. No longer in denial about the current climate catastrophe, I am wrapping my mind around this most disturbing fact.

2. Have a line in the sand. Mine is nonviolence. Gandhi said in 1935, “Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of humankind.” In this David and Goliath metaphor, I acted for the future generations of all species.

3. Train your mind and body. Daily mental, spiritual, emotional and physical practices make me fit to be available for opportunities to make the truth known.

4. Appreciate the astonishing opportunity of life at this time. This Earth Day action offered the amazing opportunity for both education and media attention. Ours was one of eight coordinated events in the U.S. that week showing the military industrial complex’s contribution to Climate Catastrophe. I am not a criminal; in my view, Raytheon, a killing machine creating death around the world, is the criminal. Some truck drivers showed interest in the issues we all face. From a beekeeper’s perspective, our action was 1 teaspoon of honey in a potentially full jar. It takes 12 worker bees to make to make 1 teaspoon of honey, and thirty-six bees are required to make 1 tablespoon of honey in six weeks. In the same way, through collaboration, cooperation and a big effort from many, we can make this a better climate for all species and a just and healthy society for ourselves and the world.

5. Cultivate radical hope. Sometimes, as a retired hospice RN, I feel I am providing hospice care to our dying planet. Life based in colonial mindsets of extraction and violence, my hope lies in making the present as healthy as possible by supporting life-affirming jobs. This Earth Day action, demonstrating for green jobs that benefit people and environment, is radical hope.

6. Act for the future generations of all species. I wanted to invite the judge and jury to act with me by finding my citation for trespassing was for the greater good of Asheville, Western North Carolina and our world. I wanted the opportunity to bring attention to the fact that I and many others don’t want more war industries to come to this area. In my opinion, Raytheon is involved in crimes against humanity with indiscriminate death from F-35s, and its impact on the environment is as yet to be determined, contributing to carbon production and reduction of species habitat. I wanted to invite them to envision an economy supporting environmentally friendly and life-affirming jobs.

Since the trial has been indefinitely dismissed, the Mountain Xpress audience can be the judge and jury. I welcome your wisdom and experience with these concerns in these times in WNC.

— Padma Dyvine
Bat Cave

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