We have lots of good and bad leadership on display in the mainstream media this presidential season, and it’s been hard to watch. Maybe, once we’ve voted, it is time to turn our sights on some leaders who aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Today, let’s start with the pipeline protesters in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
Neglected by mainstream news, but followed closely over social media, the protesters are fighting to prevent the North Dakota oil pipeline from being built across sacred Native American burial grounds, and to protect water supplies. The pipelines have proven themselves unsafe, with more than 7 million gallons of oil spilled since 2010.
Ecowatch recently published damning pictures of the violent attacks on the peaceful protests in the past week, including rubber bullets, teargas and arrest. Here’s a good summary and video of recent events by Democracy Now.
The protectors (they call themselves that instead of protesters) are taking part in a long tradition of peaceful protest, and have been joined by people from all over the country. They cite a Sioux treaty that supports their claim to rights to the land.
Here are three leadership qualities they are demonstrating in their leadership against environmentally unsound practices on their own land.
- SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP: Modeling leadership based on prayer and peace rather than rage.
- COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP: Keeping together, supporting each other, in the face of resistance and counter-violence.
- SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP: Building their leadership on preserving the ancestors, and protecting seven generations into the future.
It’s a familiar scene, from Gandhi’s movement to liberate India to the Civil Rights Movement in the US.
I believe this is the kind of leadership we must return to as we stand up for our planet, our rights and our democracy.