June 2020 Newsletter-Responding to this Moment

IPL’s national board wrote of a Kairos moment —a time outside of our usual, chronos, clock-time moments that presents us with “God-moments” when there is ripeness, possibility for growth and transformation. Other religious traditions describe such moments of unforeseen openings, too. Writer Rebecca Solnit speaks of “the spaciousness of uncertainty,” and Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy speaks of recognizing the possibility of being “strengthened by uncertainty.” Such a time invites us to step boldly into spaces of moral imagination and reimagination.

This Friday, Juneteenth, IPL leaders across the country will be in attendance at the US Climate Action Network (USCAN) Virtual Annual Meeting. We at PA IPL, and all of the USCAN network invite members to actively participate in three days of action being lifted up by the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL). Members of USCAN know the creativity and courage of each person is needed to reimagine and recreate the just systems that we need to move us from systems that extract, expend, and punish, to systems that support, uphold, celebrate. For those ready to be outside in crowds with masks, there are opportunities to demonstrate in multiple ways, including commiting to dismantling structures of systemic inequity and racism —closing the green gap— particulate matter emitted by power plants and affecting neighboring communities. There are also opportunities to lift up creative, generative, and ongoing work without being in crowds.

  • Commit to M4BL actions on and around Juneteenth
  • Stand in solidarity with the Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington via a 2 hour program broadcast on Saturday, June 20th at 10:00am and 6:00pm, and again on Sunday, June 21st at 6:00pm. Sign up, and visit June2020.org to tune in.
  • Participate in the #GreenGapChallenge, a call led by USCAN member Nakisa Glover/Sol Nation, to all – especially culture workers – to highlight on social media the connections between racial justice and environmental justice through varied artistic forms of expression. This challenge will launch on Saturday, June 20; we’ll share more on our Facebook page. This video by artists Marcus Kiser and Georgie Nakema will give you a taste of creative, generative art meant to communicate harms, and lead us into new spaces.

If you are curious about connections between the Movement for Black Lives, and the work we are committed to, we invite you to read “If you care about the planet, you must dismantle white supremacy” by Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, and published in Grist just this week.

Breathe.

We breathe in, and breathe out, thousands of times, every day. We don’t have to think about it.  Our bodies do it automatically.  Prompted by a complex physiology of which we might be dimly aware, our chests rise and fall – our lungs inhale and exhale, expanding and emptying – oxygen is absorbed into our bloodstream, carbon dioxide flows out of our nostrils.

As humans, we can live for quite some time without food, much less time without water; but for mere minutes without breathing.  Quite simply, it is necessary for us to breathe in order to live.

We breathe in, and out, until we don’t.  Breath is ever-present, until it isn’t.

Seared into our collective consciousness now are the last words of George Floyd, ‘I can’t breathe’ as his life was brutally ended on an ordinary day in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Just as Eric Garner’s life ended, his breath taken away. As it has been for tens of hundreds of thousands of men and women whose lives have been brutally taken from them, the same words cried out or silent.  Now those words are repeated by millions around the country who march and chant, fists raised in the air.

I can’t breathe.

Marchers wear masks, so what is breathed out doesn’t become what the person standing next to them breathes in. Because we are in the time of a pandemic, when anyone might, at any time, be contaminated; be a toxin to the stranger or lover a few inches, or feet, away. 

But you have to breathe to march and chant.  You cannot hold your breath.

Continue reading Breathe.