A majority of citizens in all 50 states supports continued U.S. participation in the 2015 Paris climate accord, as this Yale research on American opinion shows. About half of Trump supporters do as well. But not the White House. Last Thursday afternoon President Trump announced that he will begin the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the historic agreement to work with 196 other countries to curb carbon and fight together against the threat of global warming. Read statements from a variety of religious groups here.
Whether we are surprised by this decision or not, those of us who believe it’s our moral duty to act now to help bring humanity to a healthy and sustainable future are being galvanized. Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light is, in one sense, an amazingly small organization, with three part time staff members and eleven board members. But we’re also dozens of very active volunteers and supporters, hundreds of readers, and thousands of Hoosiers who have been touched by H-IPL’s work in Indiana—not to mention the tens of thousands people who have been moved to action by Interfaith Power & Light chapters in forty other states.
The 2012 book Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution describes what the StudentNonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) did in 1964 to garner support for civil rights in the American South: instead of bemoaning and berating the racists around them, they decided to activate their passive supporters: students in the north who were sympathetic and only needed an entry point to get moving. So they sent buses to bring people to the south for “Freedom Summer.” The students, coming in droves, saw firsthand what racial hatred looked like, and wrote back to parents about their experiences—galvanizing them—and thus created a profound shift in American culture and law.
So here are your test questions for today:
if you are already an environmental activist—that is, if you go to some trouble to live out your love for creation by organizing, communicating, reducing carbon, or otherwise reflecting your environmental commitments in your daily activities—which “passive allies” in your world can you invite to join you?
If you are a passive supporter—that is, if you agree that someone ought to do something about climate change—what will you do to activate yourself?
Would you like to donate money to an environmental organization, such as one of your state's chapters of Interfaith Power & Light? That will help, and be much appreciated!
Would you like to pick up the phone or pen and communicate with your legislator, and voice your opinion about Paris, the Clean Power Plan, or other environmental matters that are before us now? That, too, will mean a lot!
How about getting over to Home Depot for a dozen or two LEDs and installing them in your home—and your friends’ homes—and then signing up to monitor your utility use?
Or giving a testimony in worship about what creation means to you?
Or asking your local utility to give you a free home energy audit?
Or tending a vegetable garden with your children or your neighbor’s children?
Or starting a book club to read about environmental issues, or a working group to tackle a pressing local problem?
Or taking the time to research which products, from which companies, are sustainably developed—from clothing to food to appliances to travel options—and basing your shopping decisions on what you learn?
… and, having felt that wonderful “acting on your values” whoosh, moving on to larger and greater actions. Let’s show the world how America's citizens stay engaged with the world’s 196 sanest countries!