The night before I participated in the Tar Sands Action, I woke up four times with the fearsome thought of going to jail. The odds were that I wouldn’t spend more than a day or two there, but the uncertainty was unnerving. When my morning alarm went off, I thought “I don’t want to go to jail. I’ve made up my mind. I’ve been so nervous over this past week and feel so shaky now, that I really think I’m not ready to risk arrest.” I put my thoughts away as I forced down a piece of toast. If I had to spend a night or two in jail – at least it would delay my hunger a bit.
I kept thinking that I should really listen to my instincts telling me not to risk going to jail. I always listen to my instincts. Then I thought, “What did the students have to face at the lunch counter sit-ins? I’m sure they weren’t able to swallow their breakfast either. And they were up against a tremendous amount of uncertainty – including their own physical safety. Despite their fears, they acted because they knew what they were fighting for was right. They knew they had to take risks to make real change. They had to ignore their instincts, too.
As I walked to the front of the White House, I felt like I was in a marathon. Supporters lined both sides of the walkway, cheering us on with a flood of thank you’s and words of encouragement. When I sat down on the cold, hard sidewalk with beautiful people of all ages, of all backgrounds, around me, I knew I was in the right place.