First Friday Speaker: Wayne King
Stephen Gilpatrick

Wayne King, writer, environmental activist and politician addressed the Tilton community at the First Friday speaker’s forum on September 6. King authored this year’s summer read: “Sacred Trust," a fictional narrative of a diverse group of New Hampshire residents who band together to stop the “Northern Pass’ energy project.  As King described it, the project would have “built a steel spine through New Hampshire to provide electrical energy to southern New England, devastating small communities along the way.” King, a major voice in opposing the project, voiced considerable satisfaction in its political defeat. However, King did not limit himself to this topic in his address. 

More pointedly, King spoke to the theme “The Point when Hope and History Rhyme.” King began by recounting the tale of Marilla Marks Young, born 1840, who, along with Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglas, unrelentingly acted to advance women’s political rights during the mid-19th Century, repeatedly registering to vote and even running for governor of New Hampshire even though she had no legal right to do so. Marilla Marks Young died weeks after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the liberty of enfranchisement. Here was an example of what King claimed to be “... a moment when Hope and History rhymed.”  Next King briefly pointed to the activist example of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish student who recently navigated the Atlantic in a small boat to speak at the United Nations on what she termed the “climate crisis facing the planet." In this case, King lamented, Hope and History do not yet rhyme.

(L-R) Mike Landroche, Darren Redman, Wayne King, and Kate Saunders

 

After citing these two examples, King spoke movingly on the need to improve communication between differing factions regarding the climate emergency facing the planet. As depicted in his book, he believes differing people can work together if they will “argue as if they are right and listen as if they could be wrong.” For King, the planet has only a small window to learn to work together on environmental issues before irreversible damage occurs to our bio-system.

“I am not worried about Earth, Earth will still be here. The question is whether we will be here.” King warned

While King recognized that the climate crisis is a complex and emotional issue, he believes that by “butting heads and hearts” people can come together to solve these problems.

King ended his appeal for activism by declaring that because his Hope for the planet has not yet Rhymed with history, he will devote the remainder of his life to educate others on climate dangers. He spoke with the authentic conviction of a person who believes citizen activism is the only response to governmental and economic misdeeds, and while his message was both serious and confrontational, he spoke with empathy and hope for those who disagree with him and was warmly received by the community. Student questions followed his address.  

Thank you to Mr. King for addressing Tilton School students, faculty, and staff as we kick-off our First Friday speaker series.

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