I just finished reading Richmond's Style Weekly article on John Wade who, at eighteen, was branded a "terrorist" as a result of the federal government's (Anti-) "Patriot" Act and sent to federal prison for three years. John Wade's crimes were neither against humanity nor threatening to any human's safety (other than his own). His intent was to exact a monetary price against those whose actions conflicted with or symbolized a threat to the well being of our environment. While one can effectively argue his tactics and actions as misguided and malicious, there can be no arguing the passion and commitment behind them. It is the same kind of single-minded and passionate commitment that inspired ordinary citizens to throw barrels of tea off a British ship in New England, occupy campus buildings, and burn sections of our country's cities. All of these actions are now popularly viewed as natural responses to injustice rather than the crimes they were at the time. Yesterday's "terrorists" sometimes become today's heroes. I hope environmental activists will someday enjoy such status. The impunity with which our system of government destroys land and natural resources for the sake of the almighty dollar will hopefully one day be seen as equally unjust as other atrocities that we have successfully fought to change.
We should all ponder where would we be if inspired people never found the courage to stand up and take action against status quo. Even if the extreme actions of zealots are sometimes misguided and immature, they get people's attention. Attention that, for good or bad, inspires the actions of others. Scary stuff for a country like ours that thrives on the status quo and the sheep-like compliance of it's inhabitants. And that, my friends, is why we have the friggin (Anti-) "Patriot" Act and is also the reason John Wade is labeled as an extremist and a terrorist.
Today we humans are beginning a national dialogue about our future on a depleted planet. People like John Wade, through his actions and his example help us to begin that discussion. Thank goodness he had the courage to not back down after being abused by the system. John Wade has emerged from his imprisonment remarkably committed to pick up where he left off. Only this time, hopefully, his maturity will guide him to more effective means of affecting change. John Wade for his actions as an adult, not as an adolescent, is a hero and I wish I had half the conviction, passion and commitment that he has. You go boy!