People Power is a beautiful thing. As 190 nations gather in Paris this week to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, on an unseasonably Sunday afternoon in November nearly 500 citizens in Rochester marched in solidarity with their local, regional, and global leaders. Rochester was not alone. An estimated 50,000 people took part in a march in London, there were enormous climate justice masses in the Philippines, major protests in the Marshall Islands, large demonstrations in Uganda, and even marches across glaciers in south Chile. Over 45,000 people set a city record when they gathered in Sydney, Australia! The demand for action has been the same everywhere. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must stop digging for fossil fuels. We must replace our carbon emitting industries with new infrastructures based on renewables. This clear and profound message was heard both inside and outside the hallowed sanctuary of Rochester’s most historic religious institution. It was heard beneath the formidable sandstone turrets of City Hall, and in front of the office building where Frederick Douglas published the North Star. It was also heard loud and clear beyond the marble corridors of the Federal Building, on top of the granite steps of the Liberty Pole, and through the paneled mirrors of Bank of America. It was even heard in the long, dense, rectangular shadow of Xerox. Everywhere we walked our message was heard. It was heard all the way past Court Street to the Hall of Justice and then back to the church where it all began.
Some people wonder why we march. I marched because there is absolutely nothing that is worth more to my children then the environment. This is what bonds us to ourselves, to our loved ones, to our neighbors and fellow citizens, and even to complete strangers on the other side of the world. Without the Earth we are nothing but separated atoms lost in a deep void. In the words of Wendell Berry, “The Earth is what we all have in common.” What better reason to march than to push our leaders to take urgent and purposeful action on climate change in Paris at the COP21. Without revolutionary progress this time around, when it is all said and done there will be nothing left which holds us together. It is that serious.
Things happen in the world, and a big terrible one happened last week in Paris. Along with the rest of you, we’ve spent the past week or so grappling with the aftermath of November 13th’s horrible attacks. It’s been a week of terrible sadness — and of renewed resolve.
After the attacks, French authorities banned big public gatherings for a time in the city. Although activists in Paris are working hard to figure out alternatives, there won’t be a French repeat of last year’s mammoth New York procession.
But that makes it all the more important that our voices get heard outside of Paris. The problem is global warming, we have a global movement, and now we need to show it.
Next weekend, when we would have been marching in Paris, we need everyone who is not there marching everywhere else. It’s going to be a test of our nimbleness. Already there are more than 2,000 rallies scheduled around the world. Check here to see if there’s one near you to get to — and if there isn’t, it’s not too late to make one happen yourself.
It doesn’t need to be huge — it just needs to be inspired by the hope that our leaders might actually do something in Paris, and by the certain knowledge that they won’t if we don’t push them.
If you have wondered what you could do for the people of Paris — well, there are 400,000 or so of them who wanted to march for climate action next weekend. You can march on their behalf, and in the process help build some kind of hope. The world needs that now more than ever.
This October was the hottest month the world has ever measured, and 2015 is now certain to be the hottest year in earth’s recorded history. It’s time for us to turn up the heat too — from every corner of our shared planet.
Bill & the team at 350.orghttp://350.org/
P.S. Looks like there’s at least one event pretty close to you already on the map — here are the details:
WHAT: Rochester March for Global Climate Action
WHEN: Sunday, November 29, 1:00 PM
WHERE: Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene, Rochester, NY
There is so much to be thankful for in the sounds, sights, tastes and textures of nature. It reminds me of the Stoic philosopher Seneca, who would instruct his pupils to imagine losing one their senses as a meditation in perspective. Close your eyes from time to time and simulate the experience of blindness. When you open them you will be confronted with an astonishing diversity of visualization. This experience reveals to us the miracle of sight. For to be spiritually watchful means to bear witness to our own physical blessing. Perhaps, Clare of Assisi said it best when she taught us to “Place our mind in the mirror of eternity and our heart in the figure of divine substance.”
Paris was held hostage last week. A football stadium was rocked by explosives. A cafe was ripped apart by machine-gun fire. A theater was turned into a bloodbath.
To be candid, I really do not care if this was orchestrated by ISIS, Al Qaeda in Yemen, the Russians, the French government, the CIA, the IDF, or some unknown entity. Murder is murder. It does not matter who is pulling the trigger or detonating the bombs. Death is death.
Until we stop asking who did it and start asking why it continues to happen, we will always be entrapped in this hellish cycle of karmic retribution. What difference does it make if the authors of this heinous crime slaughtered innocent civilians in the name of Allah, God, Jesus, the Buddha, Stalin, national security, or any other symbol? There is no end that can justify these means.
A targeted assassination in Syria is as sinful as a subway massacre in London. Torture in an American prison cell is the same as torture in an Egyptian prison cell. Whether the flesh is mutilated in Mumbai, bombarded in Boston, or burned in Palestine, it cries out for mercy. Call it a terrorist strike or a drone strike, the flesh cries out for mercy!
Furthermore, I do not want to hear about the need to bring these terrorists to justice. The killing will never cease until people stop seeking justice. The same justice which beheads with a sword can also paralyze with poison, strangle with gas, hang with a rope, or slice open with a bullet. Death is death. Murder is murder.
The heart stops whether it is penetrated by steel or fried with electricity. Call it waterboarding or enhanced interrogation, it is all the same. The brain stops. The blood runs. The eyes go blank.
Peace and co-existence on earth does not come about through reasoning. It comes about through interfaith action, prayer and deep understanding. When Christ instructed his disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name…” he was expressing the ancient law of total nonviolence through action not words. Once someone is baptized in the grace of nonviolence, they will no longer feel attracted to the pursuit of theological conversion. They will always look for ways to create moments of solidarity with those who share different beliefs.