Most of us who care about justice and protecting the earth have been dealt a great blow with the outcome of the US election. There’s no doubt about it, this is a dreadful setback for action on climate change at a political level. It’s not the only level at which action can happen, but it’s an important one. As human beings we need to allow ourselves a time of mourning, of sitting quietly with this new reality. Many of us will need to bring our pain to the Supreme, life-generative Being in whom we believe, and we will pray for healing, for ourselves and for all those who will now suffer even more.
A Buddhist way through this time is reflected in this beautiful blog piece, Steady at the Face of the Inferno, by Thanissara, a Buddhist woman living in the UK. I recommend it to everyone.
The Jewish tradition has a beautiful practice of sitting in the presence of people who are bereaved, in respectful silence. Perhaps we need to spend time silently with that part of ourselves which is now feeling so afraid, sad, angry or dispirited. But we must draw the line at despair. The spirituality, the endurance, the energy of people of faith is going to be needed more than ever in a world where Donald Trump is US President.
It could be seen as symbolically significant that on 10th November, one day after the US election, the Interfaith Climate Statement was released in Marrakech with over two hundred religious leader signatories. The signatories included the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as well as the Grand Mufti and prominent leaders in Australia. The mammoth efforts of those who organised the statement, including our own Gill King and Philippa Rowland, show what’s possible when people of faith get organised and determined.
Let this set the tone for the strength of our continued engagement.
The statement included a call for fossil fuel divestment by faith-based institutions, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. This came with the first Muslim public divestment announcement, part of a world-wide resistance to the dominance of fossil fuel extractive and associated industries.
As the world heads into a very difficult time, let people of faith step up with a resolve and at a scale never seen before.
The world has around a billion Hindus, over two billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims, as well as hundreds of millions of Buddhists, Jains, Jewish people and other people of faith. The mobilisation of these constituencies could make the difference needed to prevent climate catastrophe. We are beginning to witness it. For example, you may want to read about a Day of Prayer at Standing Rock, Dakota. Similar peaceful, non-violent actions are happening in Australia and you are invited to join them.
People of faith usually don’t like the word “fight” but, as Bill McKibben has said, this struggle is actually a fight. We will want to respond with love, but this fight has just got so much harder. To face this evil down we will need our spiritual traditions more than ever. In compassion we will stand in solidarity with each other, with those who are most vulnerable and with younger generations. In faith we will trust that good will overcome evil and that love is stronger than hatred. In love we will forgive, reach out and bring joy to whatever we do. In hope we will organise and resist and never give up!