“What are you going to do in retirement?” asks a friend who knows I will retire from active pastoral ministry in a few weeks.
“I’m not sure,” I answer. “I may spend the rest of my life getting arrested to help stop the rush to the cliff that is climate change.”
I won’t, of course. I’m a chicken. But being in large groups and protest marches have always made me squeamish. I’ve had the sense of losing my self. I’m uncomfortable with crowds, even the best of them. At this age, I’ve come to realize that I’m an introvert, an outsider, more observer than activist. Observing…reflecting…writing…preaching…connecting the dots are my thing.
Yesterday an estimated 300,000 ordinary citizens like you and me gathered in New York City for the People March on Climate Change. This week the Secretary General of the United Nations will convene a group of international leaders for a one day Climate Summit.
The problem with standing at the edge observing is that, without action at the lowest and highest levels of society across the world, the Earth as we know it will go over the edge, over the cliff to massive population displacement, mass starvation, mass death, extinction of species, death of nations and peoples, and an exponentially worse wealth disparity between the one percent and the 99. I tell myself that publishing what I observe is its own kind of action. As a minister of the gospel, I believe in the power of the Word – the power of speech.
But I may have to rethink and act on my off-the-cuff answer to the questioner. Climate change is the overarching issue – the developing dark global spiritual and moral cloud – under which all other ethical questions fall and pale by comparison. Everything else must be examined under this umbrella. To think otherwise is to be distracted and out-of-touch with the Lord and Giver of Life. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” wrote the psalmist. It does not belong to the one percent, big oil and coal, or any one nation. While greed reigns, I just may have to get arrested.