A Redwood is a Fact

1 year ago
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Staffers from the National Park Service have been stating facts, and pointing to them on Twitter.

Aerial images contrasting the Inaugural on the Mall from Obama to Trump had been posted. The facts shown there were reacted against by the Trump administration.. The Park Service Twitter account seems to have been taken down by the new Interior Department , and has now been restored.

There is more to it than this:



While much that is online these days is spin, facts exist and it is important we respect them. That link's headline seems to fall into the category of reactive spin, but there is still plenty of good news.

 Staffers are quoted in the body of the article. Park spokeswoman Abby Wines said the posts were not intended to be political criticism, ...“This is a topic we’ve done tweets on before,” she said. “We’ve been doing ranger talks on this topic since 2012. This is part of Death Valley Park’s history.”

No one from the Trump administration has complained or asked them to remove the posts, she said.

Tom Crosson, the chief spokesman for the park service said there is no restriction on agency use of Twitter or other social media.

“There’s no gag order on national parks that would prevent people from tweeting,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

What has been sent out actually read as facts. 

-from Redwoods National Park in California, the reminder that redwood groves are nature’s No. 1 carbon sink, which capture greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

“More redwoods would mean less #climatechange,”

- Golden Gate National Park  cited the information that 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third year in a row, directing readers to a report by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA)


Yet the language of the news report -from CBS, not the Park Service -seems to mimic the same polarized mindset which argued with the factual tweets in the first place.

Buying into the notion that 'campaigns' must 'escalate' is a way of admitting that a war mentality is the answer. 

Yes, sometimes fierce acts of resistance are surely needed.

If they can be seen, as Joanna Macy notes, as 'holding actions', that keeps war mentality from colonizing our minds and hearts. They can be the tack to this direction or that we need to take as we sail to the northstar of a good sane world -and not become themselves the direction we are going.

It is a war mentality that has dominated our culture's relationship to the earth -elaboration on this soon, but for now, reminding of the familiar resource dominated thinking can suffice : "what can I *get from* the earth". 

Aldo Leopold  -a forest ranger himself -defined a healthy stance almost 70 years ago now, urging " [A] land ethic (which) changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to  member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such."

"We" need to embody that with integrity -meaning, to walk our talk . If we think this applies, then we need to enact it , not only where it is easy.

War language and acts may, very occasionally, be needed with respect for the community. Id say we should be very careful about adopting it reactively, as a go-to stance.

Opinions can cancel one another, creating an echo chamber effect in which polarization is amplified, not information.

Stating facts, neither aggressively nor defensively, inspires confidence and active mindedness in the reciever. It inspires curiousity about what is, a forward motion rather than  escalating attack.

Rooting into facts and growing up from them build, and communicates, strength.

What mode do we choose?

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Isaacg's picture

thank you for your reflections and insights Anna.  I've noticed a general trend of violent language in opposition to the new Trump administration and was recently questioned myself about a post where I wrote about the importance of "fighting" against what we don't want. I agree that we can have undesired consequences in our approach to addressing problems when we approach them with antagonism and violence.  While violence was not the connotation of the word "fight" I had intended, I recognize that it came across that way.  What I, and I think many of us want is ultimate resolution where we feel that all of our needs (for a good education, justice, equality, clean air etc.) are truly being met.  As you said, "sometimes fierce acts of resistance are surely needed."   If not a fight, how can we get there?

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Anna L Beale's picture

Great inquiry Isaac!

 Here are some starting thoughts, informed by the chinese medicine sense of the phrase 'zheng qi" . It means, literally, upright qi, held between" heaven" & "earth" (the sense of those words as I understand them in this context is between personal and transpersonal ways of thinking and being. )
. The image is of a human with golden column of light within, and also held within oneself, and the sense: to know no need to be aggressive nor defensive, *because* standing in the truth -in an alive way, meaning one's best sense of the truth that is responsive to what is not already known -is the strongest stance of all.
( A personal physical correlate, doing pushhands, where by my own reactive strength I wouldnt have much of a chance in sparring -but when I learned some of how to access the Big Qi, that goes through each of us...I was pretty effective. This is especially interesting to me because if it comes to a contest of who is willing to be most violent...those I support and aim to join with  wont be the ones most invested in imposing their personal will. Also, that kind of contest can devalue a stance: if those at Standing Rock were understood to be shooting rubber bullets and police heads and genitals..I wouild think twice about wanting their world view to go further)
Real non violent resistance is exactly zheng qi.. Gandhi's first impulse when needing to strategize was to strengthen/'purify' himself, in order to access that. There are some physical practices I use (not Gandhis;) which can help with this.
 In mediation practice, often the third party , the mediator, can embody" zheng qi" thus offering it as an option to people who come in polarized -Ive seen this work magic.
 Id say that countering irrational pettiness with the same in return -as is too often happening in what passes for left/right 'discourse' is the opposite of this, because the emphasis there is on me 'being right' vs standing up for righteousness.
 The Standing Rock Elders, from what I know, have amazingly stayed steady with zheng qi.
 Important to add : I think that adhering to zheng qi could at times lead to a violent act. Ive heard it said that Buddha at one point killed someone who knew would develop into a mass murderer,  willingly taking on that' karma" /responsibility.
An fascinating addition to this conversation:
A nonbiassed reseacher took on studying the effectiveness of violent vs nonviolent change initiatives. Read to see what came out of the research!
Looking forward to more exchange.
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Anna L Beale's picture

"What I, and I think many of us want is ultimate resolution where we feel that all of our needs (for a good education, justice, equality, clean air etc.) are truly being met.  As you said, "sometimes fierce acts of resistance are surely needed."   If not a fight, how can we get there?"

I offered some contextual thinking above , want also to engage more directly with your great question.
I think -and this has to be open to 'continuuing revelation', ongoing responsiveness  -that standing up for what one wants -those things youve described -may well take resistance against attack. AND that steady resistance is something different from attacking attack in return.
In what kind of context can justice, equality, care for the air, sound education exist? Can a context of enforced behaviors be a medium for those things?
Enough of my voice for now. Ill aim to elaborate later -and will welcome all thoughts informing the whole view.
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RobertLeming's picture

So many thoughts sparking off your exchange.

First, I want to say that we are, I believe, in these times called to a new level of discipline in the way we think, speak, act. I agree that our choice of words really matter.

I was recently in a conversation with someone I admire who said "I am telling people we really need to get ourselves out there and talk to the people who voted for Trump".

I noted, "make that talk with"

We need to be ready to hear and learn - and also to be met with stony opposition at times.


I have a long way to travel on the topic of non-violent resistance and "fight", even war.

I was born in 1951. America was still in the glow of WWII and we viewed ourselves as a Partner the Free World could Rely - and the free world largely agreed. When I was a kid I wore a toy six-shooter in a holster and received a toy B-17 Bomber - with tiny plastic bombs that I dropped around the house.

McHale's Navy was on TV, I am sure I saw all 138 episodes at least once. It shaped my private view of what it meant to be friends.

In my childhood pre-worldview - War was just great.


As I have lived on, of course, my insights into the struggle required to be a Great Nation, the motives and temptations to pose "just wars", the horrors and carnage of war all became vivid.

But my feeling that it is right to "fight back" (never to bully); not as a trait we lead with but one we preserve, can fall back on - persists.


Circling back to your conversation - I do agree that casually using "violent language" is like a call - begs a refrain in kind - is tactically flawed.

We need to talk with, be vigilant, be ready - all, I think.

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Anna L Beale's picture

"But my feeling that it is right to "fight back" (never to bully); not as a trait we lead with but one we preserve, can fall back on - persists."

Lets think about how 'fight back" /not bully" may be different than 'resist' ? To me thinking right now, its not different, except Id call 'fight back', " stand for ";)

What am I missing?


"Circling back to your conversation - I do agree that casually using "violent language" is like a call - begs a refrain in kind - is tactically flawed."

For 'tactical flaw" read the link when you  can! And I do propose that different language can express not only different tactics, but also different vision. What story do we aim to live within, the one that says most physical power wins, or another one? Or most cleverness (as differentiated from wisdom), when it comes to a verbal fight?

NOT saying that physical power nor verbal dexterity may not be the exact right tool of choice in a particular circumstance. Just, choices taken with acknowledgement, even grief, then put aside as soon as possible in favor of living a different world. (it may be really necessary to forcefully grab a child away from a speeding car...and we dont want to get into a groove of forceful grabbing)

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Anna L Beale's picture

 A little more because an example matters: 

One translation for Gandhi's 'satyagraha" is 'soul force'. It can be understood as the capacity to resist meeting violence with violence -to instead, by offering nonviolence, invite  others to meet you there. It is a changing of the context, the world view.

 It reminds of Leopold's call for we humans to partner with the natural world, instead of trying to subdue it. The quite remarkable sucesses of permaculture and bioimimicry attest to the power there.
So here is the example, from DR Sakena Yacoobi http://www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org/our-founder.htm
She does peace and education work in Kabul, including the education of girls. That is an endeavor thought by some there to be worthy of death, and Yacoobi has indeed received her share of death threats. 
She says:

"Let me tell you a story. One day in early 2002, I went with my female staff to visit one of our Women’s Learning Centers in rural Kabul. Suddenly a group of teenage boys with weapons appeared, blocking the road.

Our driver stopped the car and asked what they wanted. Pointing to me, they said, “We want to talk to her.” Although my heart was pounding, I opened the door, got out of the car and asked them what they wanted. Their leader said, “Every day we watch your car come and visit your centers for women and girls. They are learning to read. What about us? We have been fighting and living in caves since we were little boys. Now we are too old for school, but we want to study. What can you do for us?”

At the time, we only had funding for females, and I had no idea where to find funding for boys education, but I said, “Give me a week.” They said, “We will be waiting.”

I went back to my room, praying and wondering what to do. Suddenly my phone rang. It was a donor who was very supportive of our work. Listening to my voice, she asked, “What is wrong?” I told her. She said, “Start your center for boys. I will find the funds.”

And she did. Those boys went to school, studied hard and also learned about human rights, cleanliness, manners and ethics. Their parents were so happy! Soon they were able to transition into regular school.

All graduated from high school. Many went on to university or to study computers. Then and now, they have made sure that AIL has no security concerns in their communities. Today their daughters are going to school.

Open minds will make lasting change"

With guns pointed at her, Yacoobi resisted any impulse to return with violence. She may have had no choice physically -more on this in a minute -yet she evidently also refused to see the young men as objects, things -crazed terrorists. It seems she held them in her vision as promising young men who of course wanted an education. Her commitment to this vision, her 'soul force' ,was such that they were opened to her view, her story of the world as one with room for them, and her  too.

This created sustainable change, which the use of violence cannot do. Just as soil violated by forced ecosystem changes- less plant diversity, killed insect , bird and animal partners -will require ongoing doses of artificial fertilizers and machine cultivation -so a violently imposed regime requires ongoing input from its enactors. Because they convince no one- there will always be a resistance, force engenders force  - they must continue to use their resources to keep their worldview in place. It is the opposite of sustainable.

That Yacoobi did not have gun power may be significant. Those invested in a worldview of violence are usually likely to win in a violent exchange. We accrue what we care about. Violent actions tend to require violence ongoingly. "Soul force' creates more of itself.

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Anna L Beale's picture

So - do we know those agencies are fact sharing? Are they opinion spreading? Real question -I havent explored yet.

If it needs to be said - dont think we should stand aside from opinion, otherwise known as 'taking a stand' ( what a difference language can make!). And ..it ought to be rooted in actual experience and observation, and intentioned towards the truth. Mistakes can be made (that MLK bust) , so intention, and willingness to correct course, matters. To have a sense of any information source's motives can really help in assessing its information, along with other parameters,

Any more about what's on this list?

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