MLK, Climate, and Tu B’Shvat

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.  When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”    transcript and audio

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated: we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”   transcript

Which environmental leader wrote these quotes?  Who had these ecologically-based insights?  Well, I guess the title of this post gives it away, but without that hint (or the picture below!), would you have known it was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

image source
image source

King died 2 years before the first Earth Day and many years before the Environmental Justice movement was born, but his ideas about community, connectedness, and justice continue to influence those committed to a more just and sustainable future.  As wecelebrate his birth (and mark Tu B’shvat — more on that in a moment) I thought a brief exploration of our debt to King, as well as a look at what he might call us to do today was in order.

It would not have surprised King either that climate change is both disproportionately caused by wealthy and powerful nations, or that world’s poorest and most vulnerable are likely to suffer the most.  He knew that when profits come before people, the powerful prosper and the poor pay the price.

In our energy exploitation society, this dynamic is repeated over and over: in poor Continue reading MLK, Climate, and Tu B’Shvat