Will It Take a Miracle to Stop the KXL Pipeline?

On Monday night over 10,000 people took part in vigils in 283 locations, in 49 states (plus DC and Canada) to protest the building of the KXL pipeline. I went to the vigil in Harvard Square. It is so clear to me that President Barack Obama has immense power at this moment. And as I spoke with others at the vigil, I saw that we are unsure that he will use that power to stop the KXL pipeline.

I am reminded of a story my mother told me. A friend of hers was in a crowd of supporters around George W. Bush during his second campaign. The friend reached out and shook Bush’s hand and said, “I am praying for you.” She told my mother that he looked her in the eye and said, “Thank you. I need your prayers.”

My mother and her friend believe in intercessory prayer. They believe that their prayers can influence an all powerful God to intervene somehow in human affairs. I do not believe in that kind of God or in intercessory prayer.

But I do believe that we humans have often held in our hearts a fierce communal intention that some destructive potential will not act out and destroy us. The holding and expression of that desire does affect human affairs profoundly if we allow the force of that prayer-like intention to inform our actions, broaden our vision, and lift our hopes.

When I heard that story from my mother, I thought, I will pray for George W. Bush too. I will hold with utmost ardency in my heart the desire that he find and act on his potential as a human being to step out of the stories, the fears, and the voices of advisors and rise to his most fearless and generous self.

In the arrangement of political power, it sometimes happens that one individual has power to choose between two paths, with huge impacts for the future of the whole system. Barack Obama stands at just such a moment in the KXL pipeline decision.

He could act on the heart that he showed and promised us in his campaign, a new kind of president who talked about the connections that link all of us. Or he could act like the centrist Democrat that he also is and bow to the demands of extractive industries.

We need Barack Obama to rise to his best self. I want to suggest that we send him that primal human prayer—our ardent desire that he follow what he knows is true at this moment. And then we have to act, to let that fervent communal desire inform our actions, broaden our vision, and lift our hopes.

It feels sometimes like we need a miracle to turn back this dominance paradigm that is eating up our earth. What often seems like a miracle is really just a highly unlikely but nevertheless possible result. It only seems impossible because we can not see all the forces that are at work as the situation arrives at the surprising outcome.

In 1969, a popular slogan on our banners was, “Be realistic. Demand the impossible.” Let’s try for a miracle. Let’s act.

Name Remember

About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances & Publications
3/12/19 Peace, Justice and Transformation, Parallel Conference to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, 777 United Nations Plaza, NYC
11/13/18 A Journey from Guerrilla to Grandmother, Lifelong Learners: An Independent Collaborative, Temple Shir Tikva, 141 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA 01778
10/10/18 Provincetown Women’s Week Reading from Doing Time:Papers from Framingham Prison, AMP, 432 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA
4/6-9/2018 The Nature of Change, Radical Imagination Conference, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
10/25/2013 Surrender, Taos Community Theater, Taos, NM

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