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By Raymond Lesser
I went to a protest rally in Washington recently called the Rocking Chair Rebellion.
No, we weren’t there to protest the poor designs of rocking chairs and the fact that most
of them are still made of solid wood which hurts my bony old ass if I sit in one for too
long. We came to tell the banks who supply over 90% of the funding for new fossil fuel
projects to stop lending our money to Big Oil before they kill us and all their other
customers. I haven’t yet run across an industry whose successful business model is
dead customers except maybe funeral parlors, but even they have to collect their fees
from grieving relatives, as most dead guys’ credit ratings have really dropped off.
I’m from a generation that has been rocking out for a long time, but we never rocked
like this before. The organizers, Third Act, a group headed by climate activist Bill
McKibben, had managed to procure about 50 rocking chairs, which they’d painted and
decorated in many artistic, eco-friendly, crafty ways that your grandma would
appreciate. Because your grandma was probably there decorating. The rockers were
the centerpiece of a very visual protest which involved blocking the entrances to the four
offending banks, Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Well Fargo. Various of my
boomer cohort took three hour shifts blocking the banks all night and day. We also had
a march (a nice slow march) through the streets of DC to the entrances to each of the
four banks, where we got to cut up our credit cards and ask if we could use their
bathrooms to go pee. After the last of the cards were destroyed, we all had a nice die-in
in the middle of the intersection of Chase and Wells Fargo.
In case you’ve never been to a die-in it’s a technique that many of us boomers
practice regularly, especially if we’re Buddhists. The Dalai Lama says it’s good to
visualize your death every day so you’re ready when the time comes. And as many of
us know who do this practice, even if you don’t die you usually wind up having a good
nap. This particular die-in was also a chance to take a rest after all that marching if you
weren’t quick enough to get a seat in one of the rockers. The hard part for many of us
was standing up again after it was over, but fortunately we had many younger people
joining our demonstration to help get us off the ground.
Although our children and grandchildren are the ones who will have to bear the brunt
of the worsening climate crisis, we old rockers can have a tremendous impact on
making change for the better. There are over 70 million folks in America over 60, and
10,000 more turn that age every day. The average net worth of folks under 35 is
$76,000, while for those of us over 60 it’s over $1 million. That’s because we’re
cheapskates who’ve scrimped and saved and also had the chance to buy our homes
way back when for ninety-six dollars and change. Or maybe we just inherited a bunch of
money from our parents, who were the ultimate cheapskates. My mom wouldn’t even
buy a can of brand name tuna unless she had a coupon for it.
But the important thing for the banks to know (and believe me they know everything
about us) is that we’ve got a lot of money and we’re quite happy to close our accounts
at any bank that is working to kill us and place it in the hands of bankers who’d like to
stay in business for a few more years funding solar installations, electric cars,
sustainable agriculture and lots of other investment opportunities that won’t destroy
everything we’ve spent our lives building.
And hey, this isn’t just a good idea for my generation. Anyone with a bank account or
credit card is welcome to join us and put your mouth where your money is. Check out
the Third Act website for lots of info on how to find the best banks, credit unions, and
credit cards and help put our collective resources to work for a better climate future.
You’re never to young (or old) to get started.