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What Causes One to Cross the Line…

What Causes One to Cross the Line

….. from Resting in Comfort, to Acting for the Greater Good?


I recently saw an ‘Official Secrets’ interview on YouTube. It’s about Katherine Gun, who bravely released top secret documentation about the US and UK planning to blackmail other nations into supporting the illegal Iraq war.  Katherine’s struggle with issues of loyalty to her country, to humanity, to her husband, to her own conscience, made me think about how we decide to cross a line, and go public for the greater good (sometimes called enlightened self-interest).

Like Gun, who knows her efforts failed, we make big decisions without being able to predict the outcome. Think about getting married.  Or deciding to have a child.  There are desired outcomes that we pray for, but we really have no idea what will come to be.

With this climate emergency, we have scientists to look to, and other countries and communities that have begun adaptations already.  Both provide a godsend in decision-making confidence for each of us.  Yes.  We know some things that need to be done and we know time is of the essence.  Nevertheless, putting one’s name and address on a petition can seem like a big step.  Bringing the topic up in social/family conversation can be a big step.  Calling a councillor to ask for information? Going to a march?  Putting up a lawn sign during elections, posting our concern on social media – egad!!

When I went with two others to the 2014 Peoples’ Climate March, I crossed the chicken line within myself. We stayed with relatives in a nearby state; wrote emergency numbers on our arms; took the bus into NYC; stayed to the edges.  It was a peaceful and loving event with every age, size, shape, colour of person on attendance.  Walkers, babies, wheelchairs.  I was so glad I had gone, leant my presence to that of 450,000 others.  For me, it was brave to go public.  I still walk taller.

Why do we feel exposed when we demonstrate concern for the future of our children?  Isn’t that concern perfectly normal?  So, what is it that holds us captive within, prevents us from writing letters, speaking to our councillors, getting off our duff and participating with those who are facing this emergency?  We must have some deep-seated fears to be willing to abandon our beloved children’s well-being.  What do you think holds us back?

Being a committed environmentalist is considered pretty upright these days.  My family counts on me to know what’s happening, where and when. Actually, finally, we have reached the day when my friends value my commitment, history and knowledge.  We have good conversations, sharing what we know and think.

Our townships could have been like Ireland – no plastic bags since 2008; Costa Rica – a grazing ban in mature forests since 1996; like our neighbour Eden Mills, working since 2007 to be Canada’s first carbon-neutral community.  Kitchener was the first to test a municipal recycling program in 1981; 38 years later, do you have recycling bins in your township buildings?  Some of us don’t.

So how do we get where we want to go?  Somehow, we have to commit to rational thought, enlightened self-interest, and ACT NOW.  Otherwise, I fear our beloved young ones are headed towards unimaginable horrors.

Knowing the impacts on her future, Katherine Gun recently said, “Ultimately, I don’t regret it.  I think it was the right thing to do and I would do it again.’  Will we be able to say the same to our grandkids in 25 years, if we aren’t acting now.

You can watch Katerine Gun’s 2019 interview at

The movie “Official Secrets” is now playing at:

The Bookshelf – 41 Quebec Street, Guelph

The Gorge Cinema – 43 Mill Street West, Elora

After you change the light bulbs, it’s time to change the laws.


*Join Nith Valley EcoBoosters.  They are a well-organized and effective group of really nice people working around the region but mainly in Wellesley and Wilmot. Free to join.

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