TERRY: I think that’s why people are inspired. Because I think they feel that from you. And I really feel
if we’re motivated by love, it’s a very di=erent response.
Here’s an idea that I want to know what you think of:
Laurance Rockefeller, as you know, came from a family of great privilege, and he was a conservationist.
And in his nineties, he informed his family that the
JY Ranch—the piece of land in Grand Teton National
Park that his father, John D. Rockefeller, set aside for
his family — would be returned to the American people.
This was a vow he had made to his father. And he was
going to “rewild it” — remove the dozens of cabins from
the land and place them elsewhere. Well, you can imagine the response from his family. Shocked. Heartsick.
Not pleased. But he did it anyway, and he did it with
great spiritual resolve and intention. He died shortly after. I was asked to write about this story, so I wanted to
visit his o;ce to see what he looked out at when he was
working in New York. Everything had been cleared out,
except for scales and Buddhas. That was all that was in
there. I was so struck by that. And his secretary said,
“I think you would be interested in this piece of writing.” And she disappeared and she came back, and this
is what she handed me: [Reading] “I love the concept of
unity and diversity. Most decisions are based on a tiny
di=erence. People say, ‘This was right, that was wrong’;
the di=erence was a feather. I keep scales wherever I am
to remind me of that. They’re a symbol of my awareness.
Of the distortion most people have of what is better and
what is not.” How would you respond to that? The key
sentence, I think, is, “The di=erence was a feather.”
TIM: Yeah, the di=erence is a feather. I guess that’s why
I believe that we can be powerful as individuals. Why we
actually can make a di=erence. The status quo is this balance that we have right now. And if we shift ourselves,
we shift that scale. I remember one of the big things that
pushed me over the edge before the auction was Naomi
Klein’s speech that she gave at Bioneers in November of
2008. She was talking about Obama, and talking about
where he was at with climate change, and the things
he was throwing out there as campaign promises, you
know, the best things he was o=ering. And she was talking about how that’s nowhere near enough. That even
his pie-in-the-sky campaign promises were not enough.
And she talked about how, ultimately, Obama was a centrist. That he found the center and he went there. And
that that’s where his power came from. She said, “And
that’s not gonna change.” And so if the center is not
good enough for our survival, and if Obama is a centrist,
and will always be a centrist, then our job is to move the
center. And that’s what she ended the speech with: “Our
job is to move the center.” And it was so powerful that we
actually got the video as soon as we could and replayed it
at the Unitarian church in Salt Lake, and had this event
one evening where we played that speech and then
broke up into groups and talked about what it meant to
move the center. And what I came away from that with
was the realization that you can’t move the center from
the center. That if you want to shift the balance — if you
want to tilt that scale— you have to go to the edge and
push. You have to go beyond what people consider to be
reasonable, and push.
TERRY: I think that’s so true.
TIM: And that’s what I thought I was doing at the
auction — doing something unreasonable.
TERRY: Rather than just standing outside with placards,
you came inside.
TIM: To make the people standing outside with placards
TERRY: Which was Earth First!’s tactic early on, right?
TERRY: You know, with Breyten Breytenbach, going back
to that comment, “You Americans have mastered the art
of living with the unacceptable,” my next question to him
was, “So what do we do?” And he said, “Support people on
the margins.” Because it’s from the margins that the center
TIM: Yeah, that margin—that’s the feather. I mean,
with climate change, the center is this balancing point
between the climate scientists on one side saying, “This
is what needs to be done,” and ExxonMobil on the other.
And so the center is always going to be less than what’s
required for our survival. A