Go Forth Gently (Reflections on the Aftermath of Bentley)

bentley_dawnWell thanks all around, to the Traditional Owners of this land, to Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, to Knitting Nannas, to mom and dads and children, locals and travellers, farmers, business people, hippies and ferals, freaks and queers, gay and straight, young, old, all the individuals who showed up in common cause. To simmos and buddies who spent hours on the frontline in rainy weather and hot dry afternoons, to police liaisons and traffic, safety/security and first aid, to kitchen that cooked with love, to the coordinators, the infrastructure people, black wallabies, to info desk and meet and greet….and then beyond us to the local police who showed us some care and showed that they care, and to any politicians out there that actually listened and took a stand (before the decision was made lol).

And then to Metgasco and the politicians who approved the Rosella Exploration project. We thank you for creating such a grave situation, a true crisis for the Northern Rivers that gave us the opportunity and impetus to join together, heads and hearts and hands, to stand up for our rights, to stand up for clean water and to protect country. The seriousness of the threat that you have posed to our region brought us out into new territory, taking time out from our jobs and our families, spending time on the land away from the comfort of showers and computers, TVs, gardens and kitchens.

And now victorious, it is time to leave dear sweet Bentley. This incredible experience of community comes to an end much like the end of a great festival or party; yet no, those words cannot adequately describe what happened here. What happened here was a beautiful dream come true as a plethora of people came together in common cause and loved each other as best we could as we worked together to protect the land, the water, the region for our children and our children’s children’s children’s future. As Antoine de Saint Exupery said in the Little Prince, “love consists of gazing outward together in the same direction.’ And this we did well. We hunkered down at Bentley. We put aside our lives outside of here, we squeezed them as much as possible into a manageable box and somehow we found the time and energy to create an inspiring engaged presence that grew from one day to the next.

We leave here now filled through and through with joy, relief and gratitude. Still, we may find ourselves experiencing a range of other emotions including sadness and anger, loss and pain. We may find ourselves experiencing a range of emotions in the days to come. Many of us are depleted energetically, we have been hyper alert, hyper vigilant, for many days on end, awaiting a potentially traumatic event to take place. Were the police going to ambush us from this gate or that, in the middle of the night or the wee hours of a rainy morning? Many of us have been in fight-or-flight mode for many days, weeks and even months on end. This has an impact on our adrenal glands, on our emotional and psychological well-being as we were amped up without the time to slow down and to truly relax in the comfort of knowing that our home is protected. We may find that our dreams are still filled with anxiety or that we are a bit more easily startled or upset than usual. We may feel a bit flat or directionless. We may find that we are again facing problems that had faded away during the course of our strong and passionate activism.

So it is important that we take some time for self care now, be that sleep, reading, gardening, friends, cuppas at the café, videos, walks in nature, the beach, surfing, sport….time with children and family and so on. We must go gently gently from Bentley in the next few days, gently forth, gentle with ourselves, with a curiousity about what comes next. It can be a bit of a bumpy ride to integrate back into our family lives, our homes, our jobs. Perhaps we are going home to people who were not there to share in our experience and we must bridge to them, be patient as we work to reconnect with loved ones. For we are no longer the same and we will never be the same.

We have begun to get to know each other and now we know what we can do together; the power of people is enlivening. As Martin Luther King stated, “The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community”. So we will continue to meet and many of us will continue to work together as much work still remains to be done both here in the Northern Rivers where we will not stop until the Northern Rivers is declared gasfield free and we will continue to work to halt this destructive industry in the Pilliga and Gloucester, throughout NSW and even then we will not stop until we have no further unconventional gas drilling projects being developed in Australia. Must we wait 10 or 15 years to see the true impacts of these practices? No, we will work together and we will know that this gives us the great opportunity to continue to forge the gorgeous social tapestry that was woven during our days at Bentley. We will continue to meet up with each other, with that glimmer of recognition in our eyes. When I see you in the street and you see me, let us continue to give each other a hug as we have done here so many times in days gone by. Let us continue to chat about our work together and to smile together as we reminisce and scheme, strategise for how to keep country well protected and keep water clean and work for the wellbeing of all people and all species.

We showed up. We showed up at Bentley. And it feels darn good. I am deeply grateful to one and all.

Much gratitude to the local custodians who stood with us and helped us to find our way.







About Ruth R

psychotherapist, eco-counsellor director of Rainforest Information Centre environmental and social justice work breathing
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26 Responses to Go Forth Gently (Reflections on the Aftermath of Bentley)

  1. Patti says:

    Legends. Bentley is a legendary now…..we have created a new legend in our beautiful land, & united many different demographics of peoples!

  2. Desley Banks says:

    So Glad you showed up & kept showing up Many thanx Ruth

  3. Vanessa says:

    Wonderful work Ruth and a touching memoir for those of us who followed your fight from afar! The world’s a better place with you in it.

  4. Gerhard Weihermann says:

    Together we stood in Peace, Love, & Harmony.
    We are strong ‘links’ in a chain that is unbreakable, and the experience in Bentley, standing in the light with the first people made us even stronger,wiser and more compassionate.
    Many new friendships where forged in the Gentley Bentley Furness, and old ones renewed and strengthened.
    May the long time sun Shine upon us, all Love surround us and the spirit within us guide our way home …

  5. Beautiful statement, Ruth. Praise and gratitude all around.

  6. Dean says:

    Bit like leaving a relationship. Should i move on or stay in touch. I like the idea of constant hugging.

  7. Anand Anderson says:

    Thankyou for your insightful words to aid integration back into our other lives. They speak of those rare moments in a life where community is formed, people are forever changed and in a sense we are felt reborn from being of service to something much bigger than ourselves.

  8. james says:

    yea wow that is quite the write up and so powerful. I rode around Australia with my dad last year and can completely relate to being in a certain headspace where everyday life fades away, everyday is love and happiness, and yes it really does exhaust you. but the main part I related to was coming back from that and trying to live normal life. I came back and normal life was so weird so different to what I had experienced for ,only 2 months, but it felt like a lot longer. I went through anxiety and depression. so my advice is to keep busy and keep learning and sharing that love. cause most people don’t know what it really is. this is such an inspiration for me, just like when I came back from Earth Frequency Festival, you just wish that life could be like that, filled with so much love and compassion thanks a lot ruth one more step for the greater good.

    • Raine says:

      Your words are touching and real Ruth, thank you – A truely rich wonderful experience that will live long and take each of us ‘gently’ forward – as Leunig say’s “Let it go, let it out, let it all unravel, let it free and it can be a path on which to travel…. thank you everyone xx Raine

  9. Su says:

    Thanx Ruth,
    You have verbalized exactly what I have been feeling but was unable to label. I was calling it Anticlimax – we were all dressed up with now no place to go.
    But, there IS still work to be done, and I have total faith in this wonderful community that it will get done and Australia very soon will be Gasfield Free!
    PS: And then the world!

  10. Geoff Rosten says:

    Well said – simple.

  11. jarrah keenan says:

    thank you so much for all your work Ruth…your words are kind, wise and very well written…love and light from Jarrah….

  12. Jennifer Allison says:

    congratulations, I watched you all from the Netherlands and it was simply amazing
    to see the photos posted and read of your dedication…thank you

  13. Mike Mouritz says:

    Insightful, magic, inspiring

  14. Susan Bowmam says:

    Heartfelt……..thank you for wording the Bentley Experience so beautifully…….ooooooooooooo

  15. Darren Holmes says:

    Thanks Metgasco ! Bye Metgasco !

  16. Nina says:

    Thank you Ruth for your beautiful words, you have summed it up well.. and thank you for your gentle heart and wonderful words on the Greet the Dawn vigils .. and yes to the hugs 🙂 The Heart symbol that hung above Camp Liberty said it all and I believe it is a huge part of why we were successful. We all came to Bentley because our Hearts moved us to do so, we went deeply into our Hearts when we arrived to join with others in Love and respect, and we connected with each other thru Heart and Mind. We communed with the Heart of Country thru the guidance and wisdom of the Original Elders Then throughout all the stresses and ordeals, throughout the fears and the threats we stayed in our Hearts and prevailed. All our Hearts were touched and forever changed by the experience <3. Thank you Bentley for allowing me to stand more in my True Self and to share that experience of "real" community giving hope to us all that a New Earth is not only possible but already exists xx ❤

  17. Pingback: Emboldened by the Bentley Blockade @ Wendy Sarkissian PhDWendy Sarkissian PhD

  18. Hip says:

    Thanks Ruth. I would like to distribute this piece to the people currently involved in resisting the Muckaty Nuclear Waste Dump proposal in the Northern Territory. This is another outrageous proposal. Would you be happy for me to distribute it in this way ? Please. Cheers.

    • Ruth R says:

      For sure Hip, you are welcome to distribute the piece. I am honoured. I am working on a follow-up one now. 🙂

  19. Many thanks, Ruth. Beautiful and helpful words. Love to read more from you. I was explaining what had happened at Bentley to an old friend, Strider, a committed activist in the Northern Territory. I said that all our interactions were now infused by a “Go, Bentley!” energy. He asked if it felt like falling in love. I said it did. it did. It does. Love.

    • Ruth R says:

      Yes, I agree Wendy and it is this new blossoming relationship that will keep us strong as we move forwards now with the campaign to keep the Northern Rivers gasfield free and get the existing licenses to be cancelled. More writing on its way. Thanks.

  20. Ruth, You so generously shone your peaceful, warm light into the community at Bentley and the reverberations will continue for a very long time. I greatly appreciated your rich, consistent contributions towards the gentle, uplifting, NVA nature of the Bentley experience and I also loved being able to read your moving, profound words afterwards.
    I will be on a panel in Sydney next weekend discussing “Cultural Editing: How some fairy tales become lost in the woods”. If it’s OK I plan to quote bits of your speech and this post (while acknowledging you) especially the quotes by Antoine de Saint Exupery quote and Martin Luther King.
    “Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins” is the name of a workshop being held this Thursday in Sydney by Annette Simmons. The amazing Bentley media team helped us tell our story fully, richly, poetically, creatively, beautifully. We told the best story and we won! But within the Bentley blockade community, the stories we told ourselves and each other gave us the strength and courage to remain united and peaceful. You and the many organisers helped hold this note or tone of non-violent, creative action.
    In the context of Bentley, I vividly experienced the way stories I had been telling for many years suddenly took on a far deeper resonance. When life is relatively easy and safe, stories are nice, reassuring soul food. But as we faced together the powerful, threatening, heedless giant of corporate power in lockstep with corrupt government, in a fight that seemed unwinnable, with everything we held dear at stake (land, water, air, food security, health), then the stories (and songs!) we collectively held in our hearts became the difference between sustaining hope or giving up, working calmly and strategically together or dissolving into panic and anarchy.
    As you said at the last dawn service, “we gaz[ed] outward together in the same direction’ and ‘discovered beloved community’.
    I believe you are off to Leard soon. Blessings on you Ruth!! (I am also on the Healing Story Alliance Board which may interest you in your therapeutic endeavours. Also we are starting a new page of social justice stories. http://healingstory.org/)
    Aust Fairy tale Conf: http://www.faeriebard.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Conference-Program.pdf

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