Monday, July 16, 2012

Tour De Frack

This Sunday marks a huge event for me.

I have been working this year on doing things that stretch me, things that take me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it's something seemingly small, like fording a river.

Other times, it's a 5 day bicycle ride.

Ever since seeing the movie, The Way, I have had interest in a long, or at least several day excursion of some sort. It went up on my someday list. At the same time, I was hearing more and more about fracking, and frankly, none of it good.

Fracking, if you don't know is a process of drilling for gas. It involves fracturing the layers of shale that the gas is in, usually with a toxic chemical concoction.

It posed major threats to the environment and the lives of the people who live near fracking, but it's bigger than that. It comes down to basic democracy. The states are giving over their rights to the Oil and Gas Industry. And they're giving the rights of the towns and cities to plan their cities. This is a pretty basic right and function of local government that is now virtually taken away.

The idea of fracking has perturbed me since I heard about it, and the more research I do into it, the more I am disturbed.

So when I received a phone call to be a part of a 5 day bicycle tour/rally to raise awareness about fracking, I couldn't say no.

And I stepped a big leap out of my comfort zone.

I did not have a bike. Nor had I really ridden in over 17 years. I did not have any of the gear or stuff I would need.

But I couldn't say no. You have to take the first step, even though you don't see the whole staircase.

After asking around, I was lent a bike, and a couple of shops donated a helmet, gloves, emergency kit, and a tune up. I still need a lot of things. A lot. But I have been riding on and off since May, and I can pretty comfortably do 25 miles, (a little over half of what my daily riding will be).

Every day, I think, what have you got yourself into?

But life is about the living.

As each day passes, bringing with it a greater clarity of what the actual biking will entail, I have begun thinking about the rally side of it all.

The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness and education about what fracking is and the truths of what it does. There are events each night along the way, culminating in a big rally in DC called Stop the Frack Attack.  I have had many misgivings about several of the various protests I have been a part of. While I believe in the cause, I frequently disagree with the tone of the protests. Dehumanizing the other side is never going to lead to a solution. Calling the other side names does not lead any way to a lasting solution. All direct actions (such as protests) should be done to cause negotiations. And focusing on the individuals instead of the overall issue, allows no room for negotiations.

The last week has opened my mind to several illuminations. It will be interesting to watch these protests and events from this perspective. Regardless, I will not be participating in any sort of verbal violence.

I'll keep yall posted.