The above photo is of a curtain in the making. Each thread, bobbin, pin, and movement is important for the final product. The 85 year old woman making this is also an important part of the this curtain. It takes all the pieces, no one worth more or less than the other, working together to make this beautiful curtain.
I pledge allegiance… with liberty and justice for all. For all. It seems we often forget the “for all” part.
For all. Working for all. I thought about that today when I went to a talk on climate change. http://www.midmaineglobalforum.org/ It was the middle of the day so of course almost everyone there was over 60, most well over 70. It was odd to be honest. But then I realized that every one of these people left their warm homes and came out on this dreary and cold day to learn a little something about climate change. Why would these folks in the last decades of their lives care? They/we won’t be around long enough for the most severe consequences of climate change yet here we were. Each and every one who was there cares about their “for all”. They care about their grandkids and their neighbor’s grandkids. They care about grandkids they don’t know. For all. All these grandkids will be the ones who will live intimately with the effects of climate change. Yet, even with that looming over us, the thing this speaker said that resonated the most with me was her final comment. It was a comment about the interconnectedness of our world’s economy, poverty, and social justice. She graciously reminded us that those three things must be addressed and dealt with if we are going to address climate change effectively and humanely. It is the richest of us who contribute the most to climate change and the poorest of us who will suffer the worst of its effects. It became obviously clear our moral responsibilities in working to keep carbon in the ground. It’s a social justice issue as well as an environmental justice issue.
So just for the fun of it, let’s take a look at a social justice issue that has taken the internet by storm these past few days. There have been released photos and videos of a young white high school boy standing in the path of an Indigenous elder during a rally in DC. As millions around the world watched the events of that situation unfold we noticed the narrative change. For some reason mainstream media (do we have any major Black or Indigenous or Latino owned media?) decided to give the MAGA hat wearing boy(s) a break and make this about poor them, turning them into the victims. This was one of the most blatant examples of gas lighting I have seen in quite a while….well since this past fall that is. Sitting at the talk today I realized this is deeply connected with the crisis of our planet. Every time we have a national display of overt racism and/or misogyny it becomes more and more clear that the white, males who have run our country for hundreds of years aren’t going to go down without kicking and screaming. It is pretty much understood that abusive males (and certainly not all males are abusive!) have learned that gas lighting is very effective in keeping them in a position of superiority. And gas lighting is what happened here. The media, those with powerful voices from a privileged family, a powerful PR firm, a powerful president of the United States… they all took part in taking over the narrative and worked hard to cause the rest of us to question what we saw, what we watched.
It was clear to me why I was thinking about MAGA boy, white male privilege, and gas lighting during a talk on climate change. It was because they are interconnected. Science often focuses on systems, the interconnectedness of things. If we take that idea and think of the MAGA boy, his PR firm, his parents, the president who rewarded them and their racist behavior by inviting them to the White House, you can see how this is connected with the dysfunction of climate change. It’s really not a great leap at all. Rich, white, males run our country. They run our fossil fuel industries. They will continue to work together and do whatever they must to stay on top, to stay in power and wealthy. I am slowly realizing that they will take us all down with them rather than change course. We need to continue to rise up and lift our voices demanding this change. This is not going to happen easily. But change for the good seldom happens quickly or easily. As I left the talk today I walked for a few minutes with an older man, easily early 80’s. He turned and looked at me and said, “You, women, you are who are going to save us from ourselves. Please do a good job and do it quickly.” I looked at him and realized that he is right.
For well over 50 years we have known that climate change was happening, that burning fossil fuels was the primary cause, and that fossil fuel companies would do everything in their power to keep us from knowing this. In the past twenty years that “doing everything in their power” included taking over the United States government. I don’t say this tongue in cheek. It is well known and documented that many of our representatives take massive amounts of money from the fossil fuel companies, Republicans and Democrats alike. In return they vote with the companies’ interests not ours. Why do we continue to support them with our votes? Go figure.
For our grandkids. For our neighbor’s grandkids. For the grandkids we don’t know and who live far far away, may we all do something to work for social justice. Maybe it means writing a letter to your representatives on their webpages, or writing them a snail mail letter, or calling them. Maybe it means writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, or supporting an organization who is speaking up for those who’s voices are not listened to. But do something. Do your part to work for a more peaceful and inclusive world for our grandkids. Stay determined, persistent, and tenacious. Because when one grandkid somewhere is victim to social injustice, including the effects of climate change, we are not free, not really.
Peace and persistence,