Why Is There an Eco-terrorist in This Book?

    Terrorism is something we hear and read a lot about these days. When I wrote Raintree Rebellion, I included a character who was an eco-terrorist when he was younger. I did this, partly, to explore ideas about terrorism. There are real injustices, even in Canadian society. Sometimes people feel helpless to change the things that bother them. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel that these problems might be solved by acts of violence. It’s also easy to believe that the people we disagree with are evil and must be punished.

    But our society is what we call a civil society, and that means it's held together by a number of rules. One of the most important is the agreement we all make to solve our problems without resorting to violence. This enables us to live peaceful lives. When people cross that line to commit acts of terrorism, the very fabric of our society begins to fall apart. In places where violence rules, people live in poverty, their children have no hope for a better future. Fear dominates every thought and action. When violence rules, all the good things that we value in life disappear.  

    In Raintree Rebellion, I wanted to say that no good can be done by doing harm. This is, I believe, a fundamental truth that every person needs to accept if we are to live and prosper in a peaceful society. My character Prospero was so upset about what was happening to the environment that he thought he had the right to destroy the property of people who were doing things he disapproved of. In the end, everything he valued in life was lost. This is fiction, of course, but people who commit acts of violence generally do lose the people and things they hold dear.

    One of the characters in the book, Griffin Stockwell, discusses the idea of using violence to change society with Blake, the main character. This is part of  what he says:

“When people think they are absolutely right, they can believe that anything they do to accomplish their goal is right too...I can’t begin to tell you how much harm has been done to innocent people throughout history because members of some movements allowed themselves to believe their cause justified any action. No cause is so noble that it cancels ordinary human decency.”

    I believe that. I also believe that violence is the crude and unimaginative solution. Political solutions that don’t resort to violence are bound to be more creative. People’s minds can be opened and changed by creative, non-violent actions, but violence doesn’t create sympathy, it just makes everything worse for everyone.

To Explore More

Many of the characters in The Raintree Rebellion are trying to change their society. What kinds of protests do people create? What other things do they do to try to change their world?

The ghost library is one form of protest in the book. Do you think the ghost library is something people will remember? Why?

What injustice do you care about? Can you think of a way to explain how you feel to people who might not share your opinions? Can you think of a creative way to show why changes are necessary? How could you use creative arts to get your message across? Can you draw a poster? Write a play? Make a video?

Protest songs are one way to tell people about injustices and inspire them to change. To read the lyrics of dozens of protest songs, visit the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty's page Song lyrics for activists and protests. Write your own protest song.

Return to Raintree Rebellion main page

Return to Home Page