Spirit Filled 'Forward on Climate Rally' in D.C.
When I think about all it takes to simply deal with life; a job and money, taking care of a home and car, the various struggles of personal relationships, finding meaningful work, having a necessary break for fun, perhaps personal self-work like meditation and yoga, I can understand how little someone’s attention might want to focus on, let alone take the time to try to relate to, something so subtle and long range as the warming of the planet. Not to mention, the immense feeling of powerlessness any individual feels about having any impact on changing the global, catastrophic course we are on.
On the other hand, when I am in the midst of 35 - 50,000 people, gathered in Washington D.C., (as I was yesterday, Feb. 17, 2013), at the largest climate rally in history. When I am listening to those who have focused on the actuality and potentiality of climate change, and thousands of us are chanting and shouting, jumping up and down and marching around the White House, pleading and demanding Obama to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, I am inspired that people can refocus their attention. I am also reminded of a story told by Terrance O’Conner, in the book, Ecopsychology - Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind.
O’Conner, a psychotherapist, tells the story of Freida Fromm-Reichmann, a prominent German psychoanalyst, who over the course of three years of therapy, cured a Jewish woman of her irrational fears. A few weeks later, the woman was picked up by the Gestapo and taken to a concentration camp. Reflecting on this, he says, wouldn’t it have been more helpful to counsel the woman to leave Germany. Reflecting on our own personal issues, and recognizing we cannot leave the Earth, wouldn’t it be more helpful to us to give a significant part of our attention and time to helping stop humanity’s slide into self-destruction.
At the rally, I was especially moved to hear the First Nations, indigenous Native American speakers, who are very involved in the Keystone pipeline fight in Canada and the U.S. They spoke from the heart and with the wisdom of their people, invoking and thanking the spirits of the earth, air and water, and the human family, of which we of all races make whole. We heard Casey Camp, indigenous leader with the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma and Jacqueline Thomas, Chief of the Saik’uz First Nation from British Columbia, Canada, in addition to Bill McKibben, Van Jones and other dedicated environmental activists.
Rallies, such as the one in Washington, take enormous effort on the part of organizers and those who participate. Just to participate, I was on a bus for an eight hour round trip ride with 50 other people from my area. We stood for the rally and walked in 30 degree weather for four hours on the Sunday of Presidents Day weekend. Thank Mother Nature, it was a mostly clear sky. No complaints. It was wonderful to be with such a spirited, committed and intelligent group, mostly younger folk, who care and are willing to give their energy and time to this. On the trip to D.C., many of us shared our personal stories of how we came to be on this bus, what moved and moves us. It was truly moving to hear the veterans of many marches and rallies, and to hear what inspired or made the shift, for those who have just come on board.
There are many things that can change a person’s mind from believing the lies, from feeling helpless, from being inactive, to taking the time to act on behalf of all humanity and the Earth. But, it is my belief, that these actions are part of the process. Despite the little attention they are paid by mainstream media, each person who participates carries the energy back, and their friends hear about it, and the word gets passed, and the movement grows. Will we be able to stop or even slow the current trajectory towards sea level rise that will inundate population and food producing centers, create famine and massive population migration, and accelerate species extinction (possibly human)? I don’t know. But it seems worth trying. What are our priorities?
I am most grateful to 350.org, the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, and other environmental groups for keeping us aware and moving forward to act for ourselves and our children. You can learn much more about the rally and other news and projects at their websites.