Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yes We Can

By Kevin Raymond

I don’t intend it in anything even remotely approaching a partisan way, but “Yes We Can” just has to be our mantra as we measure our responses to the urgent threat of climate change.

In just the past couple of years, climate change has moved from the province of theory to accepted fact, and what the scientists and our own senses are telling us is happening to the planet is sobering, to say the very least. We can already expect global temperatures to increase for centuries no matter what we do to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. The seasons are changing, sea levels are rising, severe weather events are increasing in their intensity and duration (and apparently their frequency), and we are losing plant and animal species at a crushing rate the planet hasn’t seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs tens of millions of years ago.

We are right up against it. What is happening is heartbreaking, and the task before us daunting. At the same time, our faith tells us that we are not alone with this work, that God is with us, that all of creation is waiting with “eager longing” for us to get about the business of beating back the worst of climate change, and that Yes We Can.

A couple of weeks ago, two dozen religious leaders – including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Baha’is to name just a few – met here at Earth Ministry to brainstorm the future of Washington Interfaith Power & Light, our newest program.

It became clear right away that climate change is not just an environmental crisis, but also a human justice crisis – because it’s the poor and most vulnerable who are already being hit first and the hardest by climate change. It also became clear right away that all of our religious traditions have something important to say about these things, and that the path we are on right now is not the path that God, the Creator, the Ground of our Being, hopes for us.

At the same time, we were struck by a few other things. First, that people of faith lifting up an impatient, unified voice for change – for new climate and energy policies that protect the planet and our neighbors – can become an irresistible force for change that finally tips the balance in the right direction. Second, that the air is pregnant with the possibility of healthy change and an awareness that it’s overdue. Third, that interfaith climate and energy work in Washington is something we feel urgently called to through our traditions. And fourth, and despite the challenges, that Yes We Can.

Does any of this make your heart beat faster? Is this work you could get excited about? It’s going to take all of us. People of faith in Washington are setting out now to build a bigger table where there’s plenty of room and all are welcome. And we believe that we won’t ever be alone, and that Yes We Can.

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