On April 29th of this year CFET sponsored a bus to take people to the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC. 42 people made the trek, leaving Camden at 7:15AM, arriving at the Capitol Building around 11:30AM. It was hot!!! Estimates of the crowd size ranged from 250,000 to 500,000. I don’t know what the accurate number was but there were a lot of people. We marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, starting around 12:30PM. The crowd surrounded the White House. The President may have been there, since he had an engagement in Hershey, PA that evening, but we don’t know. Exactly at 2PM an extraordinary, coordinated set of activities took place.
Every person in the march became quiet, and for 100 seconds we beat our chests to the beat of our hearts. At the end of 100 seconds, like an enormous living thing announcing its presence, every person let out a primal scream as if to say: WE ARE HERE! NOT ON OUR WATCH! Not on our watch will we allow the gutting of the primary agency responsible for insuring that we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and fertile soil from which to harvest our food (the Environmental Protection Agency). Not on our watch will we allow our government officials to turn its back on the Paris Climate Agreement, the first time that all the players on the international stage agreed to address their greenhouse gas emissions. Not on our watch will we allow the scientific method to be silenced in the service of profit. Not on our watch will we allow transnational corporations to dictate to the US government those policies and regulations that make much more likely the continued raping of our common resources. Not on our watch will we go back to a time when, in an utter act of faith, we reduced Earth and her abundance to a mere source of human wish fulfillment. Not on our watch will we allow people whose sole concern is their own comfort, their own small minded pursuit of wealth, to be the arbiters of the possibility of existence on this planet for our children and grandchildren. Not on our watch will we permit the financial elite of this world to deny any obligation to future generations, to leave for posterity a livable planet, capable of continuing to support human and other-than-human life.
I once heard a friend of mine, Lori Braunstein, explain her own passionate commitment to environmental justice, by referencing her own children and possible grandchildren. She imagined a time, when all the cost of our disrespectful attitude toward Earth comes to roost, when her grandchildren might ask her what she did to fight against the deterioration of Earth’s capacity to support life. She did not want to be in a position in which her response would be “nothing.” She couldn’t imagine looking into the eyes of her beautiful grandchild, dealing with the externalized costs of our technologized and capitalistic life style, and admitting that she was too busy with her life to be concerned.
I don’t want to speak for my fellow 41 bus companions, or the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in Washington, DC and all over this country, but I dare say that many, if not all, can identify with Lori’s motivations. We can no longer pretend as if inaction is a responsible choice. So we marched, and we will march again, and we will raise our voices, and we will write, text, tweet, call and email those in power and our neighbors, urging them to support policies that represent a more just and sustainable way of living on Earth.
I hope you will join us. I hope you will rise up, resist the thinking that instrumentalizes Earth, as a mere resource for human insatiability. We must resist this! Our life, and the life of all living things on this planet, depends on it. Our children and grandchildren depend on it! If not, us. who? If not now, when?
June 4, 2017 join us for an “echo” of Earth Day fair at Sacred Heart Church in Camden, NJ. 9:30 AM – 1PM.
Mark Doorley, Ph.D.
President Emeritus, CFET Board of Trustees