David Smith: When I Grow Old, I Want to Know That I Did Everything I Could


I am part of the 500+ students from around the country because I see an injustice happening on a local, national, and international level. The Keystone XL pipeline is a symbolic and literal line that we as humanitarians, global citizens, stewards of the land, farmers, consumers, activists, environmentalists, men, women, children, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, Jews, and all spiritual sects believe that we should not cross that line. Educated college students are dissenting together to Washington to apply the brakes of our fast moving American made automobile, so that our planet and society has a chance to make the right turn to ecological sustainability.

When I grow old and reflect upon my early years, I want to say I was in Washington time and time again urging our politicians to act. I want to know that I did everything I could do as a global citizen to change our destructive course. I say global citizen because I am one of the 7.2 billion people that inhabit Earth. I first consider myself as an aware global citizen, secondly, a proud North Country New Yorker, and lastly, a shameful American. I am shameful and apologetic to the rest of the world and future generations that I grew up in a culture that believes we can infinitely grow on a finite planet; that exploiting resources is our manifest destiny; and lastly, that the people who die from climatic events such as droughts around the world, “super” storms that are becoming the norm, floods in the United Kingdom, and disease, died because of their own doing. I refuse to be part of a society that accepts poisoning indigenous people, destroying valuable ecosystems, and eradicating precious farmland that our country depends upon. I will not condone irrational policy, societal behaviors, and corporate personhood that destroy the livelihoods of billions of people.

I recognize that carpooling 503 miles one way from upstate New York contributes to the problem of climate change, but I also believe that if I do not travel down to Washington D.C. that I am condoning a much worse action than my carpooling. The oil sands in Alberta, Canada are an atrocity that I believe cannot be exploited any more. If President Obama is actually serious about climate change, he will reject this pipeline. In doing so, he will finally act as a global citizen to prevent the worst effects of climate change and begin to end our addiction to fossil fuels. I will be there on March 2nd, to stand with hundreds of other college students fighting for our futures to show President Obama, that we stand as a collegiate militia to support him when he rejects the Keystone XL pipeline.

David is a student from Potsdam, NY attending St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY and studying Environmental Studies and Geology with a minor in Sociology.