Inspiration: Standing Rock

Protestors at Dakota Access Pipeline

The fight is hardly over for the courageous native Americans, environmentalists and supportive protestors fighting the corporate sponsors of the Dakota Access Pipeline. There was some great news for their hard struggle this weekend ... and even though the struggle has been going on for months and will continue to face new affronts, it feels like a real victory, and the protestors have been spared a cold winter outdoors.

The attacks these protestors have been enduring may return in a more brutal fashion if the aspiring dictator Donald Trump manages to become President on January 20. If we don't manage to prevent the disaster of his presidency from beginning, many Americans like myself will then look towards protest leaders like Dave Archambault of the Standing Rock Tribal Council for direct guidance and involvement, as well as for moral sustenance and inspiration. Their successful program of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance will be very helpful as a role model for a national program of civil disobedience — since it's hard to imagine how a Trump presidency could play out without requiring a massive public resistance to remove him from office before he destroys everything we have.

We already know — some are just waking up to this realization — that it is now up to us alone, the American people, to take our country back. We can't expect any help from our weak elected representatives or our insipid press. If we stay strong and resist tyranny with everything we've got, we will prevail in the end, because nonviolent protest always wins and tyranny always loses. But the fight that began on election day is shaping up to be a long, tough, painful, soul-breaking struggle. We should all be prepared to answer this question: how brave are you? Are you willing to get arrested? To be beat up? How much will you risk to protect your fellow Americans, and your loved ones and yourself?

The photo at the top of this page shows Standing Rock protestors being pelted with freezing water from police hoses in freezing temperatures. You notice four people standing up. That's the kind of toughness it takes to call yourself a nonviolent protestor. The harsh truth every nonviolent protestor must realize whenever the danger begins is that they are pledging to be nonviolent, but their opponent is not.

Many miraculous things happened in the last few months at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. I've heard from friends that many new relationships and connections and coalitions have been born, especially between native Americans and environmental activists. In the last few days, a large group of veterans showed up to stand with the protesters through the winter. This may have really made a difference, because shortly after the veterans showed up the federal government made a wise decision under Barack Obama's leadership to prevent the pipeline project that is invading and threatening the Sioux lands.

It's wonderful that US military veterans showed up to join the #NoDAPL protests, and that this final step turned out to be a tipping point. The United States of America is now in a constitutional crisis over the illegal and stolen election of Donald Trump ... and as all historians know, a constitutional crisis that is not resolved threatens to lead to revolution or civil war. When a constitutional crisis worsens, the question of where the military stands becomes crucial.

In the United States of America, we know that despite sometimes questionable leadership, our military is staffed by moral and good-hearted people. When we protest against Trump's fascist actions, we should always remember that moral and good-hearted Americans are on our side, and we should always believe that the individual Americans who make up our military establishment will support the resistance against Trump as his offenses against the constitution (and against common sense) become evident. We need a broad coalition to stand against fascism, and both veterans and active military must be a part of the coalition that is already coming together.

It was for reasons as possibly far-fetched as these ... and also simply because it's always great to watch a civil protest achieve its goals that it felt like such a beautiful emotional release for so many frustrated, angry Americans this weekend when we saw pictures of veterans celebrating with the native Americans and environmentalists at Standing Rock. I think many tears are still being shed today.

And there will be weeping to come, no matter what, because our country is in a crisis. Americans are courageous and honorable people, and we will do the right thing together. Today, we honor the heroes who stood strong for freedom at Standing Rock.