Convergence of Community Visions

For years I’ve been writing to try to express a vision of community that came to me during Quaker meeting for worship, similar to what Martin Luther King, Jr, called Beloved community.

For Dr. King, The Beloved Community was not a lofty utopian goal to be confused with the rapturous image of the Peaceable Kingdom, in which lions and lambs coexist in idyllic harmony. Rather, The Beloved Community was for him a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.
Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

The King Center

As I wrote in the post Design and Build Beloved Community, I believe we are already experiencing an environmental catastrophe, the effects of which will be rapidly, increasingly destructive. Much of the increasing heat from increasing greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the oceans. But they are basically heat saturated, so air temperatures will begin to increase more rapidly. The other major danger is the release of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, as permafrost melts in the artic regions.

The havoc from increasingly violent storms and development of large areas of drought will overwhelm our economic and political systems. Municipal services such as water, power, sewage and trash processing will fail.  Food will no longer be transported to grocery stores. We need to begin to prepare now. Not wait until the day water is no longer flowing from the faucet as may be the case for 4 million people in Cape Town, South Africa in matter of weeks, with more cities to follow. Not wait until more of us are left without infrastructure as in the case of Puerto Rico. Not wait until millions are forced to flee coastal cities as the oceans flow into their streets.

Even if you don’t believe these changes will happen, or not happen soon, there are other compelling reasons to design and build new communities. Our economic system has not adapted to the loss of jobs overseas and to automation. There are simply not enough jobs for millions of people, and many of those who do have work are paid at poverty levels. Forced to depend upon increasingly diminishing social safety nets. That is morally wrong. Building small communities in rural areas will give people fulfilling work to do, food to eat, shelter, and a caring community to belong to, restoring their dignity.

I immediately recognized the Green New Deal as a practical plan to build the Beloved communities of my vision. And recognized the Sunrise Movement as the organization devoted to make the Green New Deal happen. I’ve joined the Sunrise Movement, and have been writing about what I’ve been learning from and doing with the Movement.

The core of the Sunrise Movement are the principles. You can see nonviolence is a fundamental principle, as it also is in Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community. As it is in my vision.

Sunrise Principles

These are guidelines of our movement which we all commit to uphold. Any action that does not embody these principles is not a Sunrise action.

  1. We are a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. We unite to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.
  2. We grow our power through talking to our communities. We talk to our neighbors, families, religious leaders, classmates, and teachers, in order to spread our word. Our strength and work is rooted in our local communities, and we are always growing in number.
  3. We are Americans from all walks of life. We are of many colors and creeds, from the plains, mountains, and coasts. A wealthy few want to divide us, but we value each other in our differences and we are united in a shared fight to make real the promise of a society that works for all of us.
  4. We are nonviolent in word and deed. Remaining nonviolent allows us to win the hearts of the public and welcomes the most people to participate. We need maximum participation in order to achieve our goals.
  5. We tell our stories and we honor each other’s stories. We all have something to lose to climate change, and something to gain in coming together. We tell our individual stories to connect with each other and understand the many different ways this crisis impacts us.
  6. We ask for help and we give what we can. We all have something to offer to the movement. Some of us give time through volunteering anywhere from 1 to 50 hours per week. Some of us give money. Some of us donate housing or meeting space. We invite our community into the movement by asking for the help we need.
  7. We take initiative. Any group of 3 people can take action in the name of Sunrise. We ask for advice — not permission — from each other to make this happen. To make decisions, we ask ourselves, “does this bring us closer to our goal?” If yes, we simply do the work that is exciting and makes sense.
  8. We embrace experimentation and we learn together. We welcome imperfection, share innovations, and learn through honest mistakes followed by honest conversations that help us move forward together. If we see something we don’t like, we contribute with something we do like, modeling an alternative.
  9. We take care of ourselves, each other, and our shared home. We maintain our health of body, mind, spirit, and environment to the best of our ability so that we can maintain a strong movement together. We respect that for each of us this looks different. 
  10. We stand with other movements for change. Stopping climate change requires winning and holding power at every level of government. This is a huge job and we can’t do it alone. When it makes sense, we work with other movements who share our values and are also working to win political power.
  11. We shine bright. There are hard and sad days, to be sure. This isn’t easy work. But we strive to bring a spirit of positivity and hope to everything we do. Changing the world is a fulfilling and joyful process, and we let that show.

Much more information is available on the Sunrise Movement website, including the 4 year plan. There is already resistance to creating legislation for a Green New Deal in the new U.S. Congress, although over 40 House members, 3 Senators, and many of the candidates for President support the Green New Deal.

When Democrats retake control of the House in January, Nancy Pelosi has pledged to create a new toothless “House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming” that will have no power to advance climate legislation. It will only have the power to “convene hearings” to talk about climate change. The committee doesn’t have a plan. It doesn’t even have a plan to make a plan. (See articles here and here for background).

Are you serious?!?!  In 2018 with climate change bearing down on us, our generation will not stand for words without action.  This committee (as it’s currently proposed), is nothing more than a front for Democrats  to claim that they “care” about climate change while NOT making it a central part of their legislative agenda.  This. Is. Unacceptable.

Green New Deal Resolution

So the situation is fluid in Congress. The important thing is even if work is not begun on the Green New Deal there now, the Sunrise Movement will continue to work now so as to elect people in 2010 who will support the Deal. And the work the Select Committee would have done, is being done by others outside of the government. One area of work is to build political power. Changes will have to occur at all levels of government. We will work with state legislatures and local governments to implement pieces of the Green New Deal.

Another area is to work to get millions of people to join us. That may sound unrealistic. But I believe we are at a tipping point. The idea of environmental chaos can not longer be disputed. We are all experiencing climate chaos in one way or another. People are frightened and looking for answers, finally. The Green New Deal has the answers. I would encourage you to explore the resources on the Sunrise Movement website. It is especially important to engage with young people about that. It is their future that is on the line, and they know it. They also have the passion needed to make the Green New Deal happen.

In another post I’ll talk about the specifics of the Green New Deal. Here I wanted to share the convergence of my vision, Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of Beloved Community and the vision of the Green New Deal. How our dysfunction economic model is a major part of the problem. How a Green New Deal will address far more than just environmental damage, but is more a re-orientation of our values to value people instead of corporate profits.

I see one of my new friends in the Sunrise Movement in this crowd
This entry was posted in civil disobedience, climate change, Green New Deal, Quaker Meetings, Sunrise Movement, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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