A recent viral video explores the simple question, “What if Earth treated us the way we treat Earth?” Scenes show a young girl dressed in a planet Earth costume as she gives humans a dose of their own medicine. One man is forced to inhale car exhaust. A woman lounging in a pool has oil poured on her. Two men relaxing in a park have garbage dumped on them as the girl yells, “Biodegrade that, punks!” In a clever way, the video uses the humor of role reversal to instill empathy for our damaged and degraded planet.
Ultimately, the People’s Climate March this Saturday is something of an empathy test. Are we empathetic about the increasingly desecrated and distressed state of our planet? Are we empathetic about the plight of poor communities and communities of color that suffer the most from the damage done to our climate? Are we empathetic about our children and the world that we—the older generations—are giving to them?
As people of faith, let us not only feel empathy, but let us act upon that empathy and thereby make real our love for creation.
The Rev. Dr. Brooks Berndt serves the United Church of Christ as its Minister for Environmental Justice. He is currently organizing a UCC contingent for the People's Climate March on April 29th.