It’s called the “Generation on Fire: Project 400.” Chanté, a Sunrise leader in New Orleans, dropped me an email to tell me her personal reasons for marching the 400-mile trek – “To push (President Joe) Biden to take big, bold action to stop this (climate) crisis.”
All good reasons.
Groups like the Sunrise Movement and people like Chanté are forcing necessary change. I wish I could march those 400 miles right alongside her. But I can’t.
I’ve read “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” It inspired me, not to destroy anything, but to do more to offset climate-change denial and support actions and legislation that will turn the tide of the climate crisis.
No, I’m not out there on the front lines, banging pots and pans outside the homes of anti-environment, pro-fossil-fuel members of state legislatures in the wee hours of the night, getting arrested in front of the Capitol Building, or chaining myself to trees or bulldozers to protest with the water protectors against tar sands pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (#NoDAPL) or Line 3 in Minnesota (#StopLine3).
However, by the time I read Edward Abbey’s famous novel I was in my mid-40s with an awesome spouse, three great kids, three dogs, a mortgage and student loan payments. Now I’m 52 and all that’s changed is we’re down to two dogs and the oldest kid is starting her sophomore year in college come August.
I wish I could take off a week or two to add my boots and voice to a call for climate justice, no matter how critical I believe it is to do so. Or afford to fly to Washington, D.C. every time there’s a national climate protest. I’ll also admit there are times when I wish I could pour sugar into the tanks of the heavy machines digging those pipelines, infringing on Native American rights and endangering our water supplies.
Hardcores might scoff and say, “Yeah, well, all of that is activism of convenience. If you were truly committed, you’d figure out ways to march, protest, disrupt and, if necessary, get arrested.”
Greta Thunberg is one of my heroes. And of course I wish I could be like Al Gore, the founder of The Climate Reality Project, World War Zero founder John Kerry, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibbon or Sunrise Movement co-founders Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash. We need them leading the charge. I’d like even more to be one of the people the ground. Like Chanté.
It’s partly thanks to climate activists like them that I do what I do, which is write climate-crisis-related blog posts, then spend my time and energy trying to get people to read them and take action.
You ARE a Climate Activist
Which brings us back to knighthood.
Not only do you not need to be an uber-environmentalist to claim the title “climate activist,” you don’t need to do what I do, either.
You be you.
Be the one who is like hundreds of thousands of people around the world, doing whatever we can every day, in the context of our economic and societal circumstances, to be good stewards of the planet and slow its warming. We shut off lights when we leave a room. Eat less meat. Buy in bulk. Walk, bike or take public transportation instead of driving. Write letters to the editor. Vote for candidates at every level who will fight for climate justice.
We are the masses to whom the great leaders appeal, the people they need to achieve the big, necessary objectives.
Besides, I know from experience that activism is a growth journey – start small and do more and more every day.
That’s why those of us who become Knights of the Climate Covenant pledge to do whatever we can. The promise is mostly between each of us and ourselves. With it we earn the right to call ourselves climate activists. We’ve always had that right, of course, but some people need permission.
Well, here it is.
More than that, we are a community with a climate covenant and seven purposes that bind us. We’re not perfect, but we’re getting better every day and helping to enable the Earth to make itself better, too.
So, yeah, you be you… and become one of us.
The Good Fight. Together.
One day, when my kids are supporting themselves financially and I’m still physically able, I’ll join a new generation of climate activists in more protests and I’ll march 400 miles with people like Chanté.
Until then, here I am. Here we are. Fighting the good fight with pure convictions, strong hearts and the righteousness of fact behind us.