Standing Rock and Safety


A Young Persons Perspective/Rant

That’s right…this will be a little bit of a rant, and there will be “f-bombs”…you’re in no way obligated to read this or anything I write so if you’re not in the mood for some ranty writing you might want to turn back now…

Hey look!  You’re still here :)

Okay…so let’s get down to business.  This whole “stay safe” thing in response to people going to Standing Rock has got to go!

Now, to be clear, I’m not actually suggesting anyone go to Standing Rock, that’s a whole other discussion, but when people you know and love go…consider not telling them to “be safe”.

Why?  Here’s why…because we’re not fucking safe!  I’m not and neither are you.  Standing Rock sure as hell isn’t safe…and nor is standing by quietly while the rich and powerful fuck over my future, your future, your kids kids kids future.  We are a little past “safe” here, don’t you think?


“Safe” doesn’t account for climate change, doesn’t account for extreme economic corruption and imbalance, doesn’t account for a military industrial complex, doesn’t account for the rates of extinction we’re experience on this planet, right now.  “Safe” sure as shit doesn’t account for the rate at which cops are shooting black people, brown people.  “Safe” doesn’t account for the fact that we don’t even talk about Native people getting shot by cops.  “Safe” doesn’t account for the countless people, cultures, ways of living that are being destroyed as I write this, as you read this.  “Safe” doesn’t account for the way native people where I live got hunted for money, and for sport, and “safe” sure as shit doesn’t account for the ways we avoid these topics and then repeat the same genocide over and over and over.

“Safe” doesn’t account for a world where young people worry about a future with clean drinking water.  And I don’t mean young people “in Africa”, I mean me.  My friends.  Regular old college kids.  Teenagers.  In the US.

I sat with a group of people once, and older folks were saying how they cared about a future with health care, social security, a postal service…and then a bunch of us younger folks all looked at each other and agreed we really just wanted clean water.  And everyone started crying.  That’s the world I’m living in.

We just want clean water to drink.  Think about it…

In a world where science is showing us how we are literally destroying the environment we are depending on, where we are effectively setting fire to our own house, don’t tell us to “be safe”.  Screw that!  If safe is what we’ve been trying for so far then it’s gotten us into one fine hell of a mess hasn’t it.

Locking yourself to a bulldozer and being shot at is one way to try and make things better.  Running for a political office is another way to try and make things better.  Growing good food from the earth is a great option.  The list goes on…

Maybe, instead of telling people to “be safe” you could tell them you support them?  How about “be effective” or “stay strong” or “good luck” or “I’m thinking of you” or “I love you”.

We could use a little more love, always, and at the moment perhaps a little less “safe”.

And then there’s the issue of privilege…we’re going there, so strap in if you need to…

Because I look a white dude, my everyday base line level of risk is pretty low.  I’m unlikely to get shop by cops or raped.  Awful things happen every day and mostly they don’t happen to “people like me”.  So standing in front of cops while they shoot “less lethal” bullets at me is a choice.  I can choose to do that, and I can choose not to do that.

Many people don’t have that choice, and many people don’t get the rubber bullets either, more of the bullet bullet variety.  And because of how they look or dress or where they were born or any number of reasons they don’t get to choose…I can choose not to go to “dangerous places” while according to my culture they are the dangerous places.

Would you tell them to “stay safe”?  What would that mean?  What choice do they have?  So if you turn around and tell me to stay safe…does that mean I shouldn’t be like them?  Does that mean when Native folks stand in front of guns to protect their communities I should just peace out or pull back because my community wants me to “stay safe”?  Solidarity and “we’re all in this together” suddenly stops when the guns come out?

So look…when I’m doing everything I can to help fix this messed up world I live in, you live in, don’t tell me to “stay safe”.  If you say that, it shows me you have no idea who I am.  No idea what world we are living in.  No idea what’s supportive.

Shit is really fucked up, in case you hadn’t noticed.  It’s time to mix things up and try something new.  Many somethings.  Let’s try all the things!  But don’t fucking tell us to “stay safe”.  Fuck that shit…

P.S. if this brings up some feelings…that’s okay.  If you think I’m crazy we can talk about it.  Not talking about things seems unhelpful so let’s try talking?  Open to feedback as always, and let’s all try and be kind to each other, just because :)

Cheers!  Simon :)

3 thoughts on “Standing Rock and Safety

    • I get all of this that you’ve said and said well. . . I think the big one for me is when you said, “I have a choice.” Thinking about that, because all of us privileged people have always had a choice, kind of ingrained in our privileged status. . . have always wondered what would push me over to the edge of ‘no choice’. It’s like all the comfortable feelings of privilege have to be erased. . . something way bigger than all that has to minimize, negate the comfortable feelings and push me where the uncomfortable becomes the comfortable . . . where choice is no longer an option.
      Maybe ‘Be safe.” is an ‘I love you.’ and ‘I value your life.’ and “I hope I see you again.” and “I don’t want you to die.”. . . imagining the Salvadorans might have said that to their loved ones, community and family members, who headed to the mountains to fight for all of their lives, not meaning, ‘Don’t go’ and “Don’t put yourself on the front lines.”- knowing they were willing to die for all of their lives, and making them martyrs in their deaths – but loving them so much that they were willing to let them go. . . not wanting death to be the sacrifice for life.
      Thanks for offering lots to mull over here, Si. . . offering me the challenge to think deeply about my life.


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