From DAVE SMITH
Letters to the Editor Exchange
THERE WILL BE CEMENT
I would like to make one simple request of my friends in the anti-Willits bypass community; would you guys please get a life? I mean, the deal is done; contracts have been let, ground has been broken, millions of dollars worth of equipment has been assembled to carry out the democratically expressed will of the people of California. Whatever shortcomings there may be in our democratic process, it is, in the end, the government under which we live; if you find it intolerable, try moving to Somalia or Iraq, where you can enjoy complete freedom from government (and of course everyone else there can enjoy the freedom to rob, rape etc. with impunity). After reading Will Parish’s unctuous, messianic article in the AVA, regarding his tree-sit style occupation of a critical piece of heavy equipment, I, like a lot of other folks here in the county, am really starting to get annoyed with the endless, pointless, obstruction of this project; I mean, there were probably routes and designs that I would have preferred to see built, but that ship has sailed! The time for input, over the last several decades, has long since come to a close; all the related regulatory agencies that we have created in California, which must all sign off on any highway project before it can commence, have finally done so. We must face the fact that IT WILL BE BUILT; the only conceivable effect that further protest of the work that is underway can have is to drive up the total project cost to California taxpayers, along with taking scarce resources away from places where they are sorely needed. Perhaps worst of all, for our close knit Mendocino County community, is the divisiveness, the “us vs. them” dynamic that it perpetuates here in our beloved Mendo home. Please, let us allow the contractors to make a living, and hopefully, before too long, there will finally be an end to the perpetual traffic jam that has existed in Willits for at least the 40 years or so that I have lived in this county.
Sincerely, John Arteaga, Ukiah, Ca
Regarding John Arteaga’s letter (The AVA, August 30, Online) protesting the Willits Bypass protestors. Arteaga first tells them to “get a life” and then proceeds to roll out some of the same hackneyed, retread arguments that have been used down through the decades against those working for social, environmental, and political change. His points can be summed up as 1. let democracy work, 2. love it or leave it, 3. the ship has sailed, 4. it’s a done deal, 5. it’s divisive, 6. we need the jobs.
Let me remind the writer that nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience have been a vital part of democracy even before Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. The underground railroad, women’s sufferage, labor movements, liberation movements, anti-nukes, civil rights, farmworkers organizing, anti-war, environmental protection… have all, with varying successes and failures, been a living part of democracies. It’s the way democracy works.
Nonviolence asks its practioners to sacrifice their own time and their own bodies to encourage progress rather than blowing up things and killing people… by sitting in trees, jail cells, politicians’ offices, and courtrooms; by chaining themselves to equipment; by braving wind, rain and cold; by accepting beatings and shootings; and by suffering harassment by passersby and letter writers. That is how they “get a life.”
In our most recent local past, nonviolent protestors tried to save our forests for long term sustainability, warning that the jobs created by raping the forests would soon be gone, and any chance of living-wage, sustainable, long-term jobs would be lost in the process. They were right. We lost the trees and the jobs. So arguing for short-term jobs building massive cement structures for our rapidly obsolescing, car-centric, nature-killing, climate-changing economy rings hollow.
I am honored to live in a community with neighbors like Will Parrish and Sara Grusky who care enough about our future to go beyond verbal, written, and marching protests and accept being extremely uncomfortable. Yes, it can be divisive, and no, it’s not a done deal.
Dave Smith, Redwood Valley