After the marches in NYC, all over the U.S., and over 150 countries, it’s apparent: awareness about climate change is becoming real in our consciousness, as its effects get even “realer.” As much as I love this planet, I gotta say, I struggle to keep my attention on what’s really happening. I get stuck at the “but it’s all so huge! what can I really do?” moment and bemoan this impending doom we seem headed towards, then want to think about something else.
More and more though, I feel like not knowing quite what to do cannot be a reason to do veritably little or nothing. As one speaker, a reverend here at the Oakland rally put it, “This is no time to play.” We heard from squeaky voiced kiddos about how much they love the earth and also how worried they are about the future. Real. A Filipina woman spoke a fierce poem about losing half her family to recent tsunamis, and how so many had not fled because they had never imagined that the water could get that high. So real. This, while we all gathered in front of gorgeous Lake Merritt on a slightly overcast Sunday; members of an environmental science magnet school illustrated to the audience how many feet the waters were predicted to rise in the area, subsuming the Grand Theater and the Oakland Airport. Sobering facts and scary predictions.
People spoke about the connections between war and oil use and climate change; also on capitalism and consumerism and racism and sexism and their correlation to climate change. The more angles, the more voices, whether in speech, rhyme, or song– the more it became apparent that it really was–is– all connected. Our differences are exploited to break us up and confuse us and make us feel helpless and like we don’t know how to have each others’ backs. No wonder we feel so divided and it’s hard for us to support this place– the biggest backer of all. Environment. Ecosystem. Eco, which comes from “oikos,” which in Greek means “home.”
So no, it’s no time to play. Or maybe: it’s time to play in a new way. We can look at who we’re giving our power over to politically, and see that: Ok, again and again many of those in office– the “powers that be”– do not have our best interests at heart. Seeing this, each of us can decide how we want to proceed. We can decide we don’t want to put our future in jeopardy by staying silent and numbed and not caring what happens or who owns who or that the same people seem to own everything. We can care, and speak up, and raise our power as a collective. We can speak to the people who are supposed to be speaking for us. And! We can get our hands dirty, we can learn how to work more closely with the environment, we can grow our own food. We can make plans for taking care of ourselves and others when resources get tight, which it looks like they’re bound to. We can put our energy into these circles of family and community, and hopefully the circles can expand and interconnect.
There will be times when it won’t be easy. Oppressive systems and power imbalances have had major effects on us being able to both love ourselves and be willing to be close to each other. There is shit to address, dialogue about and heal from as we work our way through this, hopefully together. But HERE is where WE ARE, and there’s no more escaping it. Home.