This Is Not A Drill: A Brief and Loving Book Review

Rev. Ganga Devi Braun
4 min readJun 22, 2019

I am daily overwhelmed by news of catastrophe and also of hope, and though I try to maintain a wide and inclusive view of what is unfolding on this planet, there are some things that are so dynamic, so nuanced, and so rapidly evolving that it takes some time for me to really feel that I have an understanding of what’s going on. Extinction Rebellion is one such phenomenon.

Most things about Extinction Rebellion that I’ve seen since October 2018 have intrigued me. I had a sense that their actions have centered creation rather than destruction. I knew that they were driven by the same awareness of catastrophic ongoing biospheric destruction that drives me and all of my work. But I hadn’t committed to understanding the full picture of their motivations and methods, their vision for the future, and the degree to which they operate in decentralized and pluralistic input/decision making models. Because I didn’t understand them, I couldn’t fully trust them.

That’s why, last weekend at Shakespeare and Company, I picked up a copy of the Extinction Rebellion Handbook, This is Not A Drill. I’ve been reading it this whole week, everywhere I’ve gone in Paris.

I’ve read it on the metro, where I’ve seen more people reading in public than perhaps anywhere else in my life. I’ve read it by the Seine, where Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo is planning to plant biodiverse wooded areas. I’ve read it in a creative concept workers space in the Marais where creativity has expressed itself through textiles and bright feminine designs. I’ve read it here, sitting along the Canal St Martin, where evidence of the Rebellion is strongest as I wander through the side streets of Republique and see pamphlets and posters and sidewalk markings all beating with the same pulse of the small pink book in my hand.

Extinction Rebellion posters in Place de la Republique

For me, now, Extinction Rebellion is inseparable in my mind from this city where in 2015, an agreement with no teeth, no penalties, and no vision for a truly thriving future was negotiated by political representatives from 196 nations. The Paris Accords are a little better than nothing, but incomplete science, reductive goals, and vague strategy all emerge from political interest to maintain business as usual for as long as possible. This will certainly result in the premature deaths of billions.

Extinction Rebellion is what it looks like when many ordinary people discover the extraordinary gifts that await us all when we take personal responsibility, and come together with creative devotion to life.

This small book explores the rebellion from many angles. I am, as is my habit, reading it nonlinearly, and I think that this approach serves me in integrating it’s contents. The first section of the book, “Tell the Truth” is heavy. The weight of the grief of this world is heavy. The degree to which life is falling apart is overwhelming. And so we must balance it with our understanding and engagement of what life is coming together in new creative forms. “Act Now” is as much an imperative as it is a meditation and a contextualization about the actions and co-creations that have emerged thus far. More than inspiring, it is clarifying of the path ahead, even when my path is almost certainly different than the paths of those whose words are printed here.

For anyone who feels the call to serve life at this perilous moment in history, familiarize yourself with this movement.

It is rebellion for life, for love, for mutual aid, for interdependence as a lived reality. It is a rebellion for biodiversity, for the thriving of all beings.

This may not be your path or your community, but the truth that any of us are telling, the good that any of us are doing, the love that any of us are being, is inherently going to bring us all courage when witnessed and experienced by others. So bear witness this movement, become a part of it, or creatively come to your own form of love in action.

I am deeply grateful to be a part of this living moment, in devotion to all life.

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Rev. Ganga Devi Braun

Regenerative counselor, in continual process of devotion to the integrity of all living systems. Constant student of love, death, and chaos. gangadevibraun.com