Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Reflection on the Forward on Climate Rally

Dear ones,

On February 17, I joined tens of thousands of people on the Mall in Washington, DC at the Forward on Climate rally that was organized by 350.org and the Sierra Club. We gathered to encourage President Obama to live into the promises and commitments he has recently made in his Inauguration and State of the Union addresses; we gathered to raise our collective voices to tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.
This system would transport crude oil from the tarsands in Canada to several refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.  In doing so, it would further expand our reliance on fossil fuels, one more step in the wrong direction for climate change. It would add to rising temperatures and sea levels. It would threaten sensitive ecosystems with potential oil spills. It would add to the threat that climate change already gives the most vulnerable people in the world: that they will suffer first and worst as climate changes.
I marched with a woman from my congregation in California and two of her friends from college. The three of them are in my grandparents’ generation and they kept remarking at how wonderful it was that there were so many young people at the rally. I kept looking around at the crowd, amazed at how wonderful it was that so many different kinds of people were gathered together. Young, old, powerful, disenfranchised, Christian, Buddhist, black, white, Native, Canadian… the diversity of the people was encouraging.

Those of us gathered on the Mall on February 17 were cold as we listened to many speakers. One, Chief Jackie Thomas, Immediate past Chief of the Saik'uz First Nation in British Columbia and co-founder of the Yinka Dene Alliance, said this:
“Never in my life have I ever seen white and Native work together until now…First Nations are always expected to be the sacrificial lambs for government in terms of the economy, like the economy is a human being, like the economy is more important than our land and our water.”
The Keystone Pipeline will not just effect the economy, it will effect all creation; we can’t forget that. I don’t want to ascribe Christian language to Chief Thomas’ remarks, but her speech got me thinking about the Christian sacrificial lamb, Jesus, the one who gave up life so that all creation could be redeemed and connected to God. 
I felt God on the streets of Washington, DC during the rally and felt the Spirit moving in the crowd, as we marched to the White House to call on President Obama to work for a future where the lives of all humanity and all creation are protected and not traded for fossil fuels. I remembered Jesus, who worked in the world to heal the sick, calm the distressed, and find the lost, so that all creation would know God.
There’s still more to the story and more work to be done. 350.org created this incredible blog with lots of pictures from the day. You can see it here: http://350.org/en/about/blogs/story-forwardonclimate. If you haven’t added your name to this open letter to President Obama, you can do it here: http://act.350.org/signup/an-open-letter-to-president-obama/ 
Blessings and peace,
Abby Mohaupt
Editor, Presbyterians for Earth Care Update

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