Moving America from Carbon Pharaohs to Democracy,
From Burning Mother Earth to Healing Her,
From Worshipping False Gods
To Celebrating the Holy One Who Breathes All Life.
We face today a crisis in human and planetary history that our religious traditions presage and prophesy.
We who are believers and seekers in the ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions that teach us to love and heal the Earth, will gather at Damrosch Park near the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City on the afternoon of Sunday, March 22, a week before Palm Sunday and Passover and in their spirit, to challenge the Carbon Pharaohs and Caesars of our day — specifically the Brothers Koch.
For our traditions are rooted in moments like the present crisis: moments when Pharaohs and Caesars, heading institutions of enormous power and overweening arrogance, overwhelmed and oppressed human communities and brought Plagues upon the Earth.
The story of Pharaoh points not only to ending oppression but going beyond it: to the necessity and possibility of Transformation. A subjugated community was able to look beyond its own oppression to the Holy One, Who beckons to us all to free ourselves and heal our endangered Mother Earth.
That story tells how the God of New Beginnings told the Israelites to bake unleavened bread – - Matzah — because there was no time for the bread to rise before they must set out upon their journey of rebirth. Today as well, we experience what Dr. Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of Now.”
The ancient Jewish people encoded that story into the festival of Passover, when millions gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the dissolving of oppressive power long before..
And the storied festival inspired a band of Jews committed to freedom and transformation, spiritual, political, and ecological, to gather to challenge a much later Empire — Rome. Led by Jesus of Nazareth, demonstrators gathered, bearing Palm branches, in the local capital of the Roman Empire, the city of Jerusalem, for the solemn challenge that Christians today call Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.
The gospel of Luke describes how defenders of the status quo challenged Jesus to make his followers be silent – – for evidently they had been singing and chanting as they marched through the city. Jesus responded, “If we were to be silent, the very stones would speak!”
Today the very stones are speaking. Coral reefs are moaning as they die, ice fields are groaning as they melt, mountains are wailing as they are destroyed to mine more coal, shale rock is shrieking as it is pummeled to harvest unnatural gas.
And suffering human communities have also begun to speak: those who have lost their food to famine, their homes to superstorms, their cities and countries to the rising seas. We join with them all, raising our own voices in song, in chant, and in prayer, to dissolve the autocratic power of the Carbon Pharaohs and to shape both a renewed democracy and a community that can embrace all life.
We choose the Brothers Koch as exemplars of the Carbon Pharaohs because they not only have made billions from the business of burning the planet – but have also devoted their billions to corrupting the political process so as to prevent any democratic action to heal and renew the sacred web of life
We call on them to repent by ending —-
- their consistent support for the hyper-wealthy few against the struggling many;
- their enmity to labor unions and worker’s rights;
- their hostility to absorbing new immigrants into the immigration-woven fabric of America;
- their support for racist and anti-democratic barriers against the voting rights of Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the young, and the old;
- their support of subsidies for instead of carbon taxes upon Big Coal, Big Oil, and Big Unnatural Gas;
- and their hostility toward the life-giving energies of wind and sun.
We call on them to repent by withdrawing their billions from the election process and from lobbying elected officials, by calling for the reenactment of strong controls over the use of money in politics, and by moving their billions into independent foundations committed to support grass-roots enterprises for renewable energy: solar and wind.
And whether the Kochs repent or not, we call upon the American public to take vigorous action to renew our democracy; to act against the Disease of Domination that seeks to subjugate Blacks, immigrants, women, the poor, and the Earth; to move toward much greater equality of wealth and income; to Move Our Money (in our purchases, our banking, our investing, and our tax-money subsidies) from supporting deadly fossil fuels to supporting green jobs, green energy, green growth; to demand a carbon fee-and-dividend system; and to insist that our government take a far more vigorous stand in the coming Paris Climate Conference for binding international agreements to swiftly and radically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and methane.
We call upon the wisdom of Passover and Palm Sunday to empower us all to bring new life and a decent future to our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our planet, and our spiritual lives.
We welcome all who wish to join with us in this prayerful, nonviolent action. Please let us know by noting your name and email in the Comments section below.
A short video (3 minutes) draws from the Interfaith Prayer Service in the Spirit of Passover and Palm Sunday: We Challenge the Carbon Pharaohs of Our Generation and We Seek to Create the Beloved Community, An Earth of Promise. The event took place on March 22, 2015 in New York City.
The service and action were shaped by Rabbi Arthur Waskow and many others. Read the call to action here.
Thanks to Herb Perr for producing the video.