by Betsy Keokosky
On Sunday September 17, I was lucky enough to find myself on a chartered bus driving to New York City through very early morning sunlight with people from Extinction Rebellion (the bus organizers) sitting in front of me, and students from Cornell climate action groups in the rows behind me. The March to End Fossil Fuels was one of the most diverse marches I have ever been on. As their website said, it was “a broad-based collaboration among New York grassroots organizations; Black, People of Color, Indigenous and frontline communities living next to oil and gas facilities and infrastructure; youth, elders, workers, people of faith, and people of all backgrounds impacted by fossil fuels and climate disasters across the U.S.” Climate Change is affecting us all now.
Besides the diversity, I was also struck by how this march was connecting environmental protest to spirituality, across all faiths, in a way that I hadn’t seen much before. Many people were there to ask President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop incentivizing fossil fuels, but I felt we were also there because we were reshaping our religious and ethical beliefs to recognize and engage with the sacredness of life on this planet we share.
I stumbled across a wonderful religious rally before the march started that I later learned was a multi-faith Invocation of Spirit:
Invocation of Spirit
People of many diverse faiths and spiritual communities will gather for an Invocation —inviting the spirit of the divine within our traditions, as well as the spirits of our ancestors, of future generations, of nature, plants, animals, elements, and all the places of the earth affected by what happens in NYC (the UN, Wall Street, etc) to march with us and help us to have the love, strength and courage we need to create a just and thriving world. People of all ages and cultural traditions are invited!GreenFaith
I listened to these religious leaders as, one by one, they took the podium and spoke to the surrounding crowd. It was a moving experience to stare up to the blue sky between NY City skyscrapers and hear people of all faiths acknowledge our dependence on Earth.
This event was organized through two interesting organizations: GreenFaith, a coalition of faith-based grassroots climate justice movements; and The Center for Earth Ethics located in Union Theological Seminary.
The Center defines Earth Ethics as “The discernment of how to live in relationship with the living planet. … [it] reminds us that we are connected to the Earth and that our moral obligations extend across space, time and even species.”
They further elaborate that Earth Ethics:
- acknowledges that those who are least responsible for pollution and depletion of the natural world are the most harmed by them,
- extends moral concern to future generations,
- extends moral concern to nonhuman life, and
- recognizes the planet as a living whole.
They also noted that “We amplify and engage with Indigenous wisdom to reorient society back toward nature and shape a more eco-centric world.” (source: https://centerforearthethics.org/what-are-earth-ethics-tk/)