Responding to this moment

Originally shared as part of our 4th Thursday Sustained Advocacy Policy Update call on March 26, 2020)

In this moment, all of us who have been driven by deep concern for justice, who have long worked on particular issues may be feeling a bit split.  We want to respond to the immediate crisis, to be of use and to be safe; we want to do what’s needed in our own households and communities, now. And when we look a little farther ahead, we want to know that the work in which we’ve invested so much sweat and spirit will not lose ground, will not be forgotten or pushed aside when we, may it come soon, are able to spend less attention and fewer resources on distancing and protecting ourselves, and instead can re-enter the analog world with gratitude and a whoop of delight. 

We can do the first (responding to immediate need)  without sacrificing the second (progress toward climate justice).  But to do so, we may have to work differently for a time.

We must remember what we know from “normal times”: the work that we do to open people’s eyes to climate chaos, to injustices magnified and stretched by climate change, and to the vast human fingerprint (particularly the industrialized, consumer-oriented world’s fingerprint) all over that change is emotionally challenging.  This is why we work where we work: we cannot address this mess, to make the changes that we need to make, to learn new ways of living and being together, and to respond to the immediate harms and needs in front of us without faith. We need faith, spirit, and love, and we need communities of people grounded in those values, and committed to weaving the tapestry our values, ethics, commitments call for —the tapestry that our faith traditions, our scriptures, our stories, and our Wise Ones tell us is, improbably, impossibly possible.  

So instead of trying to push climate change — another world-wide chaos maker —  into the same spotlight as pandemic right now when it will simply overwhelm, we can instead focus on making sure that our community resilience responses can be supported and sustained and will continue into times of need due to heat waves, when community connectedness can be literally life-saving; into times of flood and mold, when we need to show up for one another.  We can talk about the ways that people’s responses are helping each other, connecting each other, even over distance. We can talk about the ways that the pandemic is making us aware of all the ways that other people make our communities and our lives work. We can talk about the ways in which physical isolation from one another has given us all a hunger for one another, a recognition of the surprising magnitude of the importance of incidental daily contact with other living beings.  We can talk about and make plans for building our newfound sense of interconnectedness into the world as we re-emerge. And we can make conscious plans to show up for and with the communities which keep bearing the brunt, listening to what they need right away, and also to the ways they are working to realize visions of vibrant and healthy neighborhoods. We can practice gratitude. We can reflect on our gifts and capacities. We can seek out others’ gifts, and ask about hidden gifts or hopes.  We can show up for each other in new ways, and in forgotten ways. In this time of rending, it is a time to prepare for sewing. (not-quite-Ecclesiastes

As we and our partners, congregations, and allies are all finding our feet in the shifting and unsettling new landscape of pandemic, we are

We hope you will join us.