The United Church of Christ embarked on a bold witness toward environmental responsibility during the church season following Easter. Our Mission 4/1 Earth Campaign was one UNITED Church on a resurrection witness of 50 days of greening up, powering down, and shouting out for planet earth. It was a push to bring us together on one shared mission. In no way was this expected to be a short-term solution. It is a movement to call attention and build momentum for considering social change a life-time problem-one that will affect our children and their children for generations to come.
Our choices have resulted in vanishing and degraded farmland, air unfit to breathe and water unfit to drink, unsustainable energy consumption, and the perilous immediate and long-term worldwide consequences of climate change. Now we realize more every day that our choices threaten the voiceless natural systems that sustain all of life itself. Clearly God's creation is groaning under the burden of injustice, greed, and arrogance.
Pushing forward for planet earth means that we step out of our comfort zones. Every one of us needs a push. Those of us who stroll along life's highways and byways without giving much thought to how our daily consumption practices affect others must be pushed. Those of us who experience the changing weather patterns in our own areas need a push to realize that the scientific predictions about climate change are coming to pass. Those of us who are environmental activists for change are pushed to vocalize how our contribution to destruction is affecting those who did not create it.
Poor communities and communities of color will disproportionately suffer the unjust consequences of our choices. As we push for planet earth and all within it, we must accept discomfort and uneasiness as a way to advance out of the ordinary possibilities. The voices of the historically marginalized and systemically powerless are essential to the mix. However, voice recovery requires quiet space and noise-free environments. In other words, the always speaking voices are pushed to quietly listen for the whispers and murmurs that emerge as the oppressed regain their courage to speak.
It is true that chaos exists when push comes to shove and new ideas emerge and voices change. Change requires negotiation, but through cooperation stronger relationships materialize. New skills that challenge current practice and comfortable thinking can be learned if hearts and minds are open to making mistakes. It is also true that the powerful will be stimulated to recover themselves in ways that will ultimately be liberating and transforming for all.
When pushed by environmental responsibility we now face a choice. Do we live in despair and do nothing or do we live in hope and take action? Regardless of our spiritual or faith tradition, most of us are somehow pushed along in wonder, reverence, love, and respect for all of creation. If we chose hope, we must consider changes beyond small adjustments. We are pushed to restore hope and cry out for justice. We are pushed to spiritual and lifestyle transformation. We are pushed to action beyond 50 days.
The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo is the Executive Minister for the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.