The end of my fast had left me in something of a spiritual quandary, and—to be perfectly honest—with considerable pessimism as I consider the ongoing abuses of Creation that no amount of effort on our part seems able to stop. As for assuaging my grief, I realize now that this is something that no amount of fasting can accomplish. From a PR point of view, perhaps, I may have scored points for “our side,” whatever that means, but as I have tried to emphasize, that was secondary to the real motive, and all told, has not left me a happy camper.
I have had something of an epiphany, which I would like to share with you. I spent most of a gloomy, overcast, and rainy Sunday morning on the laptop following the news from Copenhagen, which included statements of concern from the peoples of Micronesia and other island nations that are being swallowed by the Pacific. This pushed many guilt buttons and did little to boost my morale.
I desperately needed a break, and as the rain had temporarily abated, I sauntered down to Wendy’s for my time honored antidote for the blahs—some coffee, the company of live people, and more light than was available to me in the apartment cubicle where I’d been with the laptop.
As I sat there with my caffeine fix, I wanted to say:
“What’s with it, God?? Why is the world in such a miserable state of affairs when most of us are basically good people and try to do the right thing? Why do so many have to suffer for the greed and avarice of a few?”
I didn’t get any direct answers, but developments in my personal life have given the concept of redemption a whole new meaning—especially at this time of year. Through no fault of my own, I’ve been born into a society built on the repression of minorities, the confiscation of their land, and the over-exploitation of our natural resources. Our culture is grounded on myths that threaten to destroy us—unless with the help and forbearance of The Almighty—we recognize the errors of our ways and take measures to correct them. You don’t have to be the prophet Isaiah to understand that we have some Big Time repenting to do. I’ve reached the stage where I feel twinges of remorse for nearly every bite of food I take, every creature comfort I allow myself, in fact for everything I do that entails sending fossilized carbon into the wild blue yonder (including typing this letter). When I turn on a space heater, I see beaches eroding in Micronesia and ice floes melting in the Arctic. When I bite into something from the industrial food chain, I see a miasma of methane ascending from a livestock feeding lot in Nebraska.
Perhaps God is sending messages to underscore our connectedness to others on the planet. Perhaps She/He is pointing out that luxury corrupts, and that we—as pointed out by a sign on a friend’s kitchen wall—should “live simply so that others may simply live.” The very basis of the Christian credo is that the weak and powerless are as entitled to a place at the table as the high and the mighty, and Christians cannot rest on their laurels until this ideal is attained for every person in every corner of the globe. And toward this end, we must now deal with the fact that we are part of that 5% of the world’s population responsible for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
This epistle is for me a catharsis of the soul, and has pointed the way for the redemptive acts in which America needs to engage as it seeks God’s forgiveness. As for the Christian community, we realize that Creation itself is threatened. We have little time for emails and conference calls. We must go to the seats of power—to the White House, the halls of Congress, the streets of the Capital, and by nonviolent means–both legal and illegal—serve as a reminder that the lives of our marginalized brothers and sisters are in great peril as a direct result of the excesses and greed of our own civilization, and that eventually, if we do nothing, we too will fall before the ravages of climate change.
As Christians, we are in a position to speak and act in a way that carries some moral authority, despite the justifiable disenchantment that many committed activists have with mainstream religion.
My personal plans are slowly taking shape. With God’s help, I hope to join others in a prolonged fast in D.C., sometime after Jan. 21, when I have a court date for an action in September. I’ll spend most of the time till then at my home in upstate New York.
As we acknowledge the birth of Our Redeemer, so we must pray for our own redemption, and commit ourselves to His Kingdom on this earth. And may the Star of Bethlehem once more bring Hope to our hearts..