‘Bring a drum,’ they said, ‘to help with the protest.’ So I dug out my old animal skin, shaman’s drum that I made many years ago. In the rainy morning, the drum skin sagged. So I put it in the airing cupboard, and almost left it at home, taking a saucepan and wooden spoon instead. But then the sun came out, and after a little sun bathe the drumskin tightened up and became staunch and all ready to go.
What got me out on the streets? First it was the fight to save the 500 year old kauri tree that a developer was about to fell (with permission from the Council) in Titirangi. Then it was my rush to ‘save’ the flame tree when its limbs were being sawn off one by one (as described in my last post). Now it was the threat of deep sea oil drilling around our coastline. In an island nation like ourselves, any oil spill would be devastating.
We drew the line once, and said no to nuclear power for our nation. Now it feels imperative that we draw the line again.
There were so many children and young people on the march, and their messages were simple, even simplistic.
‘Evil’, she wrote quickly on the pavement outside the conference centre where the government was meeting with the petroleum companies.
It’s easy to blame our leaders and to call names.
But the issues are more complex than that. How can we oppose the oil economy when we are still so dependent on roads and cars? We are complicit. And dependent. Buddhist activist Joanna Macy in a recent interview speaks of this with so much clarity.
This bright bicycle spoke of another way to travel. But it’s not for everyone. For me, I’ve changed to a smaller car and reduced my footprint by walking and taking buses as much as possible. But to get to the bach and reconnect with nature, I need to use petrol. The issues are filled with dilemmas.
What did my drum have to say? First, when it beat in slow unison with hundreds of other drums along the streets and outside the conference centre, it was sounding the beat of the earth. Keep beating your heart with the beat of the mother, said my drum, and you will know what to do.
Then, when I sat down, weary from drumming, and held the drum in my arms while others kept going, I noticed something surprising. My drum was vibrating. It was vibrating with the beat of all the drums around it. I held it amazed, as the vibration went on and on, bringing strange comfort.
These are heavy issues to face, the ones around climate change and what we are doing to the earth. Sometimes I feel alone with issues that are too big to bear. But today, marching with 6,000 others, I was part of a tribe. Together, our hearts were beating. Together our drums were roaring. And together we were resonating, as one heart, one voice, all saying one thing: No more.