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
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
But our society is what we call a civil
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
resort to violence are bound to be more creative. People’s
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.