Why I’m going to the People’s Climate March

by Patricia Siemen


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I’m showing up. As a baby-boomer from the U.S. As a person of faith.

I am going to the People's Climate March in New York on September 21.

The security of our home, planet Earth, is threatened. That’s why I’m going. It is not the terrorists, nor the immigrants, nor people who are poor that is causing this threat to Earth’s viability. It’s the continued excessive emissions of greenhouse gases created by those of us who live in highly industrialized, corporatized and technology-rich countries.

We baby-boomers in the U.S. are uniquely responsible for this major climate disruption. We have benefitted enormously from a way of life that provides every convenience, gadget and technology unimagined by our parents. We bought into the increased consumerism and easy access to a way of life made possible by increased use of fossil fuels. We taught our children to do the same. We didn’t know to teach them that Earth has capacity limits, just like every family.

Thousands are marching to reinforce the critical importance of the United Nations Climate Summit. I’m showing up with young and old, indigenous and immigrants, conservatives and liberals, business and labor, and people of every race, color and creed from all 50 states. Together we will march, sing and pray along the 26 blocks of the march route. We hope that our presence will demonstrate to the world leaders that they must take urgent action to prevent further ecological threats and mitigate the damage already done.

We are marching to demonstrate our solidarity with everyone who has a commitment to change the environmentally destructive ways we are living as a people – for the sake of our children and a viable future. We will march on behalf of all our kin: the threatened and endangered species, ecosystems and watersheds that are dying because of shifting climate patterns.

I am going to publicly witness my own complicity in bringing about this major threat to Earth our home, to the people of the small island nations, and to the people, plants and animals who struggle to survive in already decimated deserts, forests and pastoral lands. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org says it is time for the elders to step up and take responsibility for the mess we have created. The youth of the world did not create this threat, and we should not leave it to them alone to fix.

I am going as the Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, joining with colleagues who are advancing a rights-of-nature framework for protecting the spontaneity and ecological processes of the natural world. We will attend a special panel presentation on Tues., Sept. 23 organized by WECAN, on Rights of Nature and Systemic Change in Climate Solutions. Panelists will address a new legal paradigm which treats nature as a rights-bearing entity. Recognition of the inherent rights of nature to exist and flourish is at the heart of genuine climate solutions 

I am showing up and marching as a Catholic sister, joining others from the 28 interfaith groups who have endorsed the march. As a woman of faith, I believe it is our moral responsibility to care for all of creation. Our core identity flows from belonging to the whole. We are not meant to be separate. We are an integral part of an emergent Universe and are kin to all that exists. Today, love of neighbor means love for all the species and life systems that sustain planetary wholeness. The entire cosmos is the handwork of a God who not only set this universe in motion, but also embedded God’s very self into it. What is at stake with climate disruption is not only the future existence and flourishing of the planet, it is the existence and flourishing of the sacred within ourselves as well.

Meanwhile, the laws of physics wait for no one. Now is the time for world leaders to mobilize into action. Climate disruptions are increasing across the Earth. Talk and debate have been going on for years, to no avail. Will they have the moral courage to act boldly in time? Will we have the spiritual strength, discipline and creativity to make the necessary changes as well?

Will we show up?

[Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, is a Dominican Sister from Adrian, Mich., and a civil attorney who works to protect the long-term ecological and spiritual health of humans and all members of the Earth community. She is director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law, Orlando, Fla.]

Related - Sisters to march in support of climate change solutions by Beth Griffin (Global Sisters Report) and
Seeking change, People's Climate March floods New York streets by Ben Feuerherd at National Catholic Reporter