Tuesday Feb 09 2010
On my way to a candlelight vigil for climate justice, I wondered who else would show up. It was minus 5 Celsius and with the wind chill it felt like minus 25—bitterly cold by any measure. Hardly a day to be concerned about global warming. Yet some 200 committed souls braved the cold—some on foot, some on bicycles, and others (reluctantly) by car. By the time I arrived, the vigil organizers had thankfully decided to move the event inside. Once out of the cold wind, I was impressed by the strange bedfellows who had come together to express their commitment to the future of the planet.
The event’s ad hoc planning group represented many faith groups, but this was not your typical ecumenical gathering of various Christian denominations. Leaders in this service of reflection were Canada’s aboriginal first nations, Jews, Pagans, Muslims, Christians, Unitarians, and Buddhists. Clearly, the vision of a sustainable future was sufficiently broad and inclusive to attract people of many faith traditions.
The service itself blended periods of quiet reflection with brief comments by leaders of the represented groups. Each in turn spoke powerfully of their commitment to a world where people live in harmony with each other and with nature. The demonstration of collaboration and common purpose was evident, along with respect for the profound differences in spiritual beliefs. Indeed, I think that agnostics and atheists would have found this service meaningful as well.
I found this very reminiscent of peace marches and social justice events from the 1960s and early ‘70s. I am encouraged by the grassroots support for addressing the climate crisis and achieving a sustainable level of carbon dioxide emissions. This movement will grow and we will continue to see people working together in spite of their differences.
Common cause is a powerful uniting force.
It is also important to remember that no matter how many alliances, coalitions and treaties are created, climate justice is ultimately about ‘just us’. It is our individual commitments and actions in the world that make the difference.