“When all the spiritual people become activists and all the activists become spiritual, then we will win”
I heard these wise words from Standing Rock leader Cheryl Angel at a recent conference, Ministry in the Time of Climate Change. This amazing event was organized and hosted in NYC by the Center for Earth Ethics and Climate Reality; it was more of a convergence than a conference.
It brought together faith leaders from Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Native traditions, as well as legal experts, Climate Reality organizers and a variety of others including Aztec prayer dancers who led all of us in a “friendship dance.” We also had the presence of former Vice President Al Gore, who attended the entire three day conference and presented a preview of his updated multi-media presentation, which corresponds with the upcoming release of Inconvenient Sequel in late July. Trust me, you will want to see this film!
The amount of learning and networking which took place during this event is too vast to recount in detail, but here are some key points and highlights of the event:
- There is an “apartheid of resources” in our world, with many having a poverty of access to energy resources and dramatically increased risk of environmental, safety and health problems, while a few enjoy great wealth. – [Jaqui Patterson, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program]
- Climate Change impacts now equate 400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day every day. [Al Gore, Climate Reality]
- Moral arguments and personal story-telling are more compelling than economic or statistical information. [Climate Reality spokesperson and others]
- There is a strong correlation between global refugee crisis, immigration rhetoric, and Climate Change. [Asma Mahdi, UCLA]
- To cease suffering, we must change human thinking to honor the interdependence of humans with nature and with each other. [Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Global Relief]
- By allowing all these pipelines, we are becoming partners to crimes against humanity and allowing economic racism to flourish. [Chief Dwaine Perry, Ramapough-Lenape]
- Repair of the world begins with repair of the mind; thus it is important to “keep sabbath” and engage in celebratory rituals and practices with others. [Ellen Bernstein, Shomrei Adamah]
My personal take away from this conference is two-fold: One is to examine my own life for ways that I can reduce my carbon footprint and encourage others to do so. To that end, I am engaging with the Huntington Solar Co-op, and considering getting solar panels on my home if I can find affordable financing. The other is to connect more strongly with diverse people of many faith and spiritual traditions, especially people who claim Native heritage in this area. To that end, I will be publicizing the MU Native American Student Organization‘s monthly water ceremonies at the Ohio River; please watch for these and join us if you want to be inspired and energized in a very unique way. I am also continuing to invest time in WV Interfaith Power and Light chapter growth.
Furthering my and OVEC’s connections with Climate Reality affiliates and presentation practices may also be a goal; we affiliated with a Climate Reality leader to co-host the Huntington People’s Climate March, and I now have access to the Climate Reality story telling training template which was presented to us at the conference. If you are interested in any of these topics, please contact me.
It was almost surreal to walk among people I consider to be the prophets of our day and time during this event. One of which I had the honor of being photographed with (below). It is a challenge to hear their words ringing in my ears still – challenging words, which indicate that all of us must now be willing to become prophetic voices in our communities, states, region and country – speaking some very inconvenient truth to power.