I usually don’t know what I’ll write as I sit in silence before my computer the first thing each morning. This is a spiritual practice, to listen deeply for guidance. I will often scan through social media and some email digests from certain sites. In these days of widespread injustice, conflict and environmental chaos there are innumerable choices of subjects. Worshipful waiting usually focuses on the topic of the day. Once that has been determined the words seem to flow. I can usually see the outlines of what I will write.
Lately I’ve been having trouble finding what to say. Rapidly advancing environmental destruction and chaos are difficult to face. Climate models, which always underestimate what damage will be done, and how quickly, show we have almost no time to try to turn things around. A growing number of people, including myself, feel it is already too late. It seems a spiritual answer is our only possible hope.
Those who know me know I usually bring up my decision nearly forty years ago to not have a personal automobile. I fear people will think I’m bragging when I bring that up. But that’s not it. Being a Quaker, I’ve always been told we should each live our lives as the Spirit guides us. Our example might cause others to do the same. I bring this up now because, as far as I can tell, changing others by that example hasn’t happened. It is possible others have made changes in their lives that I don’t know about, and perhaps getting others to give up cars wasn’t God’s intention. The other thing about living lives in accordance with the Spirit is that we should do what we are being led to do and not be concerned with the result or lack thereof (also discussed in the last quote below).
What is devastating is believing that instead of every person having their own car, we had developed mass transit systems 40 years ago, we would probably be living today, and in the future, within the boundaries of sustainability.
My confusion relates to what I should do, what we should do, now. Is it still possible to create the needed change within the system, as the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal are trying to do? As Bold Iowa is working so hard on to make climate change the priority of every Democratic presidential candidate?
Or, as Chris Hedges says below, is nonviolent civil disobedience what is needed? My friends of Bold Iowa are also doing that. Todd Steichen, Kathy Byrnes, Miriam Kashia, Martin Moinroe and Ed Fallon were arrest for protesting near a Trump rally. Their Climate Justification Trial is scheduled for Oct. 10th.
The ruling elites and the corporations they serve are the principal obstacles to change. They cannot be reformed. And this means revolution, which is what Extinction Rebellion seeks in calling for an “international rebellion” on Oct. 7, when it will attempt to shut down city centers around the globe in acts of sustained, mass civil disobedience. Power has to be transferred into our hands. And since the elites won’t give up power willingly, we will have to take it through nonviolent action.Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elites by Chris Hedges, Truthdig, Sept. 23, 2019
I’m also part of an organization called Rising Up. I helped to set it up in 2016.Gail Bradbrook of Extinction Rebellion
It’s a network of something around 5,000 people, about 70 organizers across the UK and our focus is on non-violent direct action and civil disobedience because we believe they are proven ways for eliciting change.
Traditionally when you’re giving talks about climate change you try and be a little bit hopeful when helping people to think about something positive they might do.
This is quite a different talk.
We’re going to cover two things; the truth about the ecological crisis that we’re in at the moment and the issues of policymaking within that, and then moving on to how we actually feel, emotional responses, and what we can actually do.
So the premise of this talk is to tell the truth and ask us all to act accordingly and consistently with the information that’s presented to us including our understanding of what actually enables change to happen in the world.
Some of it’s hard to hear and I thought I’d faced this stuff but I realize I haven’t, it’s layers isn’t it, with grief, and it’s welcome here tonight, ask permission of your neighbour but feel free to hold hands, shed tears and so on all going on is the typical traditional English way, isn’t it?
There’s two influential schools in the history of ethics; utilitarianism which is where you do something wanting an outcome,and there’s nothing wrong with that, but to an extent it’s better to look at virtue ethics which asks us, what makes me a good human being? What does it mean to live a good life in these times?Gail Bradbrook of Extinction Rebellion
And in this tradition it’s practical wisdom, it’s our heart that leads and precedes the actions and decisions.
So it’s always worth doing something if it’s morally good and the right thing to do, no matter how successful it will be, and that’s where we’re at in Rising Up, this is what we’re about.
And just to quote Dr. Kate Marvel again,”courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.”
We’re talking about traditional values here orientated towards service to community, duty, responsibility, honor, and the desire to be a worthy ancestor, in fully understanding that we will die one day, it could be soon, wishing to fully live a meaningful life, and in facing the risk of life on Earth dying, to step forwards and be willing to offer our service to something bigger than ourselves, to life itself.
For some this is a basic orientation of their spiritual expression, the part of ourselves that understands what’s sacred.
So I’m asking you to take a minute to ask yourself, given what I just heard, What does it mean for me to be a good human? What does it mean to die without regrets? Will you be able to look your grandchildren in the eye and say you did what you could?
Those quotes are from this video, “Heading for extinction and what to do about it”.