A letter to London from an XR rebel

| 18th April 2019
XR protestor holding up banner
Flickr
Young environmental activist responds to the Extinction Rebellion week backlash and gives a passionate account of why she’s protesting.

If you’re a Londoner I’m sure you will bemoan the tube and road disruptions. I would too. But I implore you to step back and perhaps confront the difficult truth that there are greater apologies to be made.

Thousands of rebel activists have descended upon five locations in London as part of an International Rebellion, a two-week disruption to London and beyond.

I was one of these activists who contributed to blocking roads, occupying squares, painting streets, spreading the word and being what my parents might call ‘a general nuisance’. I am a young female environmental activist. And I am sorry.

If you are a Londoner, then I am sorry for inconveniencing you. I am sorry for the tube delays, cancelled buses and traffic jams. I am sorry for diverted routes. I am sorry for the noise pollution. I am sorry for the upcoming tube disruptions. I am sorry if your working day was perforated by activists locking on to the tubes. I am genuinely sorry.

Difficult truth 

But more-so, I am sorry to my children for bequeathing them a world that looks radically different to the one I inhabit.

I am sorry to people in the global south who will bear the brunt of my old habits of mass-consumption. I am sorry to the women who feed the world and still watch it burn.

I am sorry to the small-island states that will be drank by rising sea levels. I am deeply sorry for my role in this.

If you’re a Londoner I’m sure you will bemoan the tube and road disruptions. I would too. But I implore you to step back and perhaps confront the difficult truth that there are greater apologies to be made.

The aim of these protests are "to create moments in time when humanity stops and fully considers the extent of the harm we have done and are doing to life on earth". Perhaps a little inconvenience is warranted?  

Resituating 'inconvenience' 

This is a difficult one when you’re 40 minutes late home from work, I get it. But this is not an inconvenience, this is us fighting for the future. This is us reopening a conversation amid the perennial silence of the UK government.

We are now at day four of the International Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion are successfully syphoning the hum and fizz of the working metropolis, but there is much more to do.

Engaging in conversations about climate change and its impacts - rather than "those f****** lefty snowflake hippies are at it again!!!" - is important.

I’m not asking you to get arrested. I’m asking you to pause, and situate ‘inconvenience’ in its wider, historical context.    

Thank you

And whilst I started with apologies, I end with a thank you. Thank you to Extinction Rebellion Youth for peacefully painting London with our thoughts, feelings and fear. All of the ‘graffiti’ - as the BBC has so kindly put it - is chalk spray. This means it is non-toxic and will wash off immediately with water.

Thank you to all the activists who have donated their bodies to be arrested. I feel such gratitude that you are rallying for collective strangers at such a great personal cost.

Thank you for reading and thank you for the conversations I hope it sparks.  

This Author 

Katie Hodgetts is a youth activist for Extinction Rebellion, the UK Youth Climate Coalition and Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate. She tweets personally at @KTclimate.

Image: Julia Hawkins, Flickr.

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