Those who know me, know I tend to jump all in for what catches my interest. With experience and age (in that order) I like to think I have learned some life lessons. One of the most important lessons I have learned, and forgotten, and learned again, is to try to discern what the Spirit is asking me to do. I’ve found that might not be what my mind was hoping for.
I’ve also worked on being more patient. This has been especially difficult for me because I have had a deep concern about the ever worsening destruction of Mother Earth all of my life (nearing 70 years now). One of the core Quaker and other religion’s beliefs is we must live our lives as expressions, examples of our faith. That others might change themselves as they see your witness. I often wondered why, then, others did not give up their cars as I had done. I had to learn patience, and remember what I wanted to happen as a result of this witness might not be what God had in mind.
It was becoming increasingly clear to me that we could not begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions until we created a better economic system. One that focuses on the health and well being of everyone. One that embraces justice and sustainability.
The more I think about our broken economic system, the more sinister my thoughts become. How have we come to accept millions of people living in extreme poverty, living without adequate food, water, shelter, healthcare, safety or hope? How have we come to the point where African American men have been removed from society via incarceration at ridiculous rates for ridiculous offenses? How have we come to the point where private security firms and police from surrounding states can violently attack and brutalize Native American and other men, women and children who are merely peacefully praying for protection of water?
The rich and their corporations have forced millions into economic concentration camps. These camps don’t have physical walls, but are just as real as if there were walls enclosing, entrapping vast numbers of us.Economic Concentration Camp, Jeff Kisling, https://jeffkisling.com/2017/05/28/economic-concentration-camp/
I find the ideas of the Green New Deal (GND) to be really exciting because it recognizes the need to build a better economic system, as well as the framework for a plan to convert to renewable energy, and how quickly.
- It forces us to face the reality of how much work needs to be done, and done very quickly, if we want to try to avoid runaway global heating (latest reports say 12 years).
- It points out we already have the technological knowledge and experience to ramp up production of renewable energy systems. This will create millions of good, well paying jobs.
- It offers a workable way to begin to address racial and economic injustices, by focusing on first bringing these benefits to the communities that have been most negatively impacted.
My experiences with the Green New Deal have included joining the Sunrise Movement (“Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.”). The Sunrise Movement is a youth-led movement of, largely, young people that has done an astonishing job of creating an excellent outline for a Green New Deal and a rapidly growing movement to support it. The Sunrise Movement contributed to the successful elections of progressive political candidates in the last Mid-Term elections.
As I’ve been thinking about all these things, I came to realize the youth I’ve been able to spend hours with during online meetings, had created a Beloved Community, though I’m fairly sure few of them would put it in those terms. I was immediately touched by the way everyone was so patient and kind with each other. There was always a “thanks” after someone contributed something. If someone was having trouble expressing themselves, someone would always say, “it’s OK. Take your time.” Or, “that was my experience, too.” Or, most commonly, “awesome!”.
I’ve come to believe the power of the Sunrise Movement comes from, and will continue to come from these Beloved Communities or “Sunrise Hubs” that are growing in cities and towns across the country.
That leads me to believe what those of us who are older, but have spiritual experience, might have to offer is our spiritual support. In my experience, it is really important to wait until you are asked to speak about your spiritual experiences. Its also best to be very careful about what assumptions you might be making. You first have to have a connection with someone before you can begin to have a serious discussion about spirituality.
So, I hope those of you who have spiritual experience will think about how to be aware of opportunities to begin to share some of that experience, if you aren’t already. (As an example about making assumptions, I almost made the mistake of assuming whoever reads this doesn’t already know this, or had some of these experiences.) As my experience, and the following quotes say, faith leaders need to go where the youth are. We need to closely observe and learn what the youth are teaching us. This is the attitude I hope you will bring to these situations, that you are present to observe and learn, not lead.
The video at the end of this is about how a Quaker group supported us as we walked during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. I learned a lot about spirituality from those I was on the March with and from those who joined us remotely (story in the video).
“What many of the clergy interviewed in this book realized in the course of the Ferguson protests was that rather than sitting back in their sanctuaries and waiting for the young people to seek out the church for guidance or leadership, it was the church that needed to go out and meet the young people where they were, joining them shoulder to shoulder, on the streets, in the struggle for justice. Equally important, the clergy did not go out there expecting automatically to lead or be listened to simply by virtue of being clergy. They understood that these young protestors were already leaders who were accomplishing extraordinary things, and that they needed allies in the clergy more than they needed the clergy to act as their leaders. At the same time, by meeting these young leaders where they were and being their allies in the truest sense of the word, these clergy were able to use their gifts, experience, and networks to complement and elevate the gifts and experience of the young activists.”Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community Kindle Edition
by Leah Gunning Francis
“Throughout my life, it has been an honor to watch my elders make medicine in their mouths and feed the world with their tender sacred speech. Following their example, I want to share the words that make waterfalls, lakes and rivers, and offer some medicine to those who are wondering how we will continue living when the Earth that sustains our lives is so damaged. What I share here, far from being my own creation, is ancient memory that belongs to all of us.Deer and Thunder; Indigenous Ways of Restoring the World, Arkan Lushwala
In speaking about the gifts of my elder, I do not want to impress anyone. My intention is to share the spiritual depths of a culture that creates individuals like my tayta, ones with a real capacity to have an influence on the health of the Earth. I am one of those who believe all of humanity can regain an ancient way of being that allows us to talk to our Mother Earth to resolve dangerous imbalances of the environment under her guidance. The state of humans and the state of the Earth are completely intertwined, and the full recovery of the best of our human nature will be the healing of Nature.”
The following video talks about the ways faith played a role during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, September, 2018.