Local correspondent Flora Bernard is writing a series of reports from Salt Lake City at the Tim DeChristopher trial.
A funny thing about Tim DeChristopher: he can't sing worth a damn.
One of my favorite quotes of Tim's — one that I shared with his supporters outside the courthouse during the second day of his trial: "If you can't sing, sing with friends."
If you can't carry a tune in a bucket (like Tim), you can certainly still flesh out the chorus. You can pump up the volume; you can still sing out, loud and clear, and when you have a hundred folks chiming in with harmonies behind you, by God, you sound pretty good.
Sing with your friends: it is pretty universal advice, and it applies even more immediately and vitally when you have spent the past four, six, nine hours (or at this point, one, two, four days) singing at the top of your lungs. At some point, every set of vocal cords has got to give. It just does. But if there happens to be someone in the crowd who knows the words, all you have to do is hand over the megaphone, and the song stays in the air.
It's the secret weapon: if you have enough voices, the song never ends. One voice might give, but someone else can step up and keep it moving.
It's an elegant metaphor for how I feel about the organizers I have been lucky enough to call allies for the past couple of years, and more so in the past couple of weeks. Every one of us has been working to the bone, trying our damnedest to get Tim's story out to the broadest possible audience. We are giving everything we have, and at some point, something has to give. A lot of us slept in Tuesday morning, but those of us who crashed knew that someone — no one was certain whom, but someone, without a doubt — would be there, singing, when we arrived at the courthouse. We knew that once we stepped into the courtroom, someone would already be inside. We knew that if something slipped through the cracks — be it a mislaid amplifier, a huge vinyl banner, or an empty cat dish — someone would be there to catch it and address it, so that by the time we noticed, it might as well have never been an issue. It has happened time and time again this week. It will continue to happen after a verdict is issued for Tim DeChristopher's case. It will continue to happen as we move our country away from fossil fuel dependence, and toward the just, healthy world we all want to see. We are there to get each other's backs. That is what this trial is all about: solidarity, mutual support and trust.
The jury is deliberating right now, determining whether or not Tim is guilty of a crime. Whatever verdict is handed down, we're ready to respond with joy, resolve and commitment to one another and to the cause of climate justice. Today, we are all Bidder 70. Today, we are all being judged. Ours is a vital fight for a universal cause — a planet that can sustain society, a just and healthy world. No matter what happens later today in that courtroom, Tim DeChristopher has already reached a victory. He has breathed life into the bones of a world-weary movement; he has empowered countless citizens to believe that effective personal action as a powerful agent of change is indeed within everyone's reach, as soon as we are ready to act on your beliefs. And when you are, know this: there is a powerful community ready to support you and stand with you. There are so, so many of us who are ready to step up and hold fast to this cause.
We're with you. We have your back. And we're not going to stop fighting. We are keeping the song and the message in the air.
Chime in. Believe in the power of your own voice. We need all the volume we can get.