A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
We are gathered here to welcome the marchers to Pittsburgh, which became in 2010 the first city in the world to ban fracking, and to give support to the marchers as they walk from CA to DC to raise awareness about the urgent need for climate action.
Despite the name of the march, this is not about climate and the environment, but about justice. These marchers and so many thousands who support them stand not only for action on the coming climate disasters, but for justice in our world, and it is OUR world.
Justice is an odd word, and has many meanings for many different people. For some, it simply means that one should find honesty and truth in a courtroom.
For others, it may simply be that libelous things once said are retracted.
For yet others, it would mean an end to war, an end to poverty, and an end to exploitation by a cruel system that puts people around the world either in debt slavery or in an early grave.
Some who work for justice simply focus on raising wages and benefits and somehow don’t see the struggle for climate justice as part of their struggle.
There are even some environmental organizations out there who see justice as persuading a climate criminal, some corporate environmental terrorist, to hurt this globe just a little bit less instead of holding fast to the dream of a clean planet, especially when that empty promise is accompanied by a large tax-deductible donation.
Even those of us in the more confrontational and less-compromising groups within the environmental movement somehow too often see our struggle as the primary struggle, that all others don’t matter as much, that we hold the truth, and those who engage in battles for wages or an end to police brutality are wasting their time.
Well, if you’re one of those, I think you’re wrong but so are those with a sole focus that excludes the environment and climate. . For, after all, what is the environment? Is it just the air we breathe, water we drink, and land we farm and occupy?
Or is it everything around us, our neighbors, the homeless person we saw curled up under a bridge on the way here? Is it the racism that killed Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin? Does the environment have anything to do with gender bashing, or domestic assault and rape? What does the environment have to do with our brutal wars into lands around the world, killing their children, destroying their nations, all done simply so that defense contractors can make obscene profits?
And, what is the environmental justice that we call for? Is it just reduction in carbon-dioxide levels, an end to methane leaks that are far worse than CO2?
Do we become blind to the cry for justice that comes from mis-guided and manipulated coal miners who are seeing their families and futures destroyed by an end to the only jobs they ever had and ever expected to have?
As we cry out for an end to the practices of those filthy corporations who are destroying our planet, we must see that almost all of us in the world have been cast adrift in the same leaky boat that can only stay afloat if we learn to bail together.
That coal miner who has been persuaded that there is a “war on coal” is not my enemy. The frackpad worker risking her life every day in an unsafe environment is not my enemy. The jobless person who comes home and works out his/her frustrations through alcohol or drugs is not my enemy.
The retired US postal worker who goes to Tea Party rallies in his government supplied electric scooter demanding an end to government benefits is not my enemy, and none of the above are yours either.
Our neighbors who quietly utter racist comments but who are the first to bring a hot meal to the Black woman down the street who fell and broke her hip….is not my enemy.
My enemy, your enemy, the enemy of peace, justice, and freedom is the system that operates with one goal and one goal only. It has one god, one lover, and only one alter to worship on and that is the sociopathic drive for profit at any cost.
And all….ALL….of the scenarios I spoke of earlier are environmental struggles. Our environment is everything we touch, everyone we see, everyone we work with, everywhere we go, even most with whom we currently find little political agreement.
We seek justice and we understand that environmental justice means the environment in which we live, work, and play must be changed. We seek climate justice because we understand that the climate in which we are now forced to live is a climate fueled by evil dark forces in a wicked capitalist system that sees no contradiction in making obscene profits from fossil fuels even though it hastens the deaths of innocent millions around the globe.
These forces cannot be persuaded to do good, as it is beyond their capability, beyond their consciousness, and beyond their desires.
We cannot sit down with them and reason when they insist WE should be “reasonable” as they have no ability to “reason” if it involves improving the health of our planet and those who occupy it.
We must take them on, head on, refuse to vote for their corporate-funded candidates, build mass resistance, organize in our communities and workplaces around our common needs, commit civil disobedience, pack their jails, throw sand in the gears of their death machines, understand that history is on our side, and that every day, we will light new and brighter torches to shine light into the dark tunnels of death they have created.
And let them know that we will march no longer to their drum beat, but only to a new and exciting rhythm that says change is coming and that we are unstoppable….. a new world is possible.
— Mel Packer