Beyond the Climate March: Toward a Transformational Strategy

MLK speaking "Beyond Vietnam" to Clergy & Laity conncerned at Riverside Church, NYC 4/4/67. Rabbi A.J. Heschel is nearby
We need both a short-term & longer-term strategy for the Faith/Spirit-rooted Climate Action community.

Short-term strategy should focus on demanding that the various national governments agree to a strong climate treaty at the Paris conference at the end of 2015.

Longer-term strategy should face the extreme concentration of power in the “Carbon Pharaohs” and their banking and similar facilitators, and begin working toward a new grass-roots economy based on cooperation, community, resilience, and ability to connect with Earth-healing sources of energy.

In the next few weeks, as we move deeper into the Sabbatical/ Shmita Year that Jewish tradition calls for and the whole human race & all Earth need, the Shalom Report will be exploring some long-range approaches along these lines.

On a shorter time frame:  We need a 3-year strategy aimed at and just beyond Paris.

First, we need a network of local groups in and beyond the USA, like the array that brought so many people and so much creativity to the NYC Climate March and to dozens of companion marches around the world last Sunday.

This array should already be planning toward becoming a network  toward the new economy  we need. It should especially involve those most damaged by our present top-down economy – the poor, the disemployed, people of color, and those most hurt by global scorching.

This array should be capable of bringing thousands of people not only to Washington DC but also to many of the other national capitals of governments that will be taking part in the Paris Conference late in 2015.

They/ we should gather to demand a much stronger climate treaty than the US government has been hinting at proposing.  Some part of these numbers should be prepared for nonviolent civil resistance if the relevant national government fails to take a strong stance in Paris.

(If such a gathering is impossible in China, as is very likely, then there should be a concerted international effort to demonstrate at Chinese embassies and business offices of selected major Chinese companies, warning of a major world boycott of  selected Chinese companies if there is a weak response by the CPR government to the climate crisis.)

As Interfaith Moral Action on Climate (IMAC) has been exploring in conversations even before the Climate March, the time may be ripe for creating a strong national/ international faith-based organization/network  ready to take vigorous action on the climate crisis. Given the extraordinary turnout in numbers, creativity,  and intensity last Sunday, this notion may be even more relevant now.

IMAC’s conversations have been using for exploratory purposes the name of an organization from 50 years ago. That one was called Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV). It brought 3,000 people together on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in NYC to hear Dr. Martin Luther King give his most profound speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence.” (See the photo above. To expand it, click on it.).)

By then, CALCAV was a few years old and had been organizing around the country. MLK’s speech and that  event helped change the public atmosphere about the war –-  redefining antiwar acfivists in the public mind beyond cranky college students to the respected leaders of religious communities.

Can we now create a CALC/ Earth (by that name or any other)? – Can we bring 3,000 religiously committed folk of all traditions to Washington DC as we brought 10,000 to 58th Street in NYC?   Taking into account many many strong gatherings around the world last  Sunday, can similar numbers of religious/ spiritual people come together in London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Delhi, Jagarta, Rio, Cairo, Johannesburg, and so on?

Can such groups in the US – the most important single government to shift – be ready to organize local actions as well, both electoral/ lobbying and street/ civil disobedience in nature, both to affect the Paris negotiations and to keep going no matter what happens in Paris, putting climate forward as the most powerful issue in 2016?

In the US, is any one or more of the Faith-rooted multireligious organizations/ networks ready to take on this mission? Is 350.org <http://350.org>  ready, as it did with the NYC Climate March, to put people and resources at the disposal of a religious network –—  “Clergy And Laity Concerned About the Earth,”  under that name or any other?

This proposal is NOT intended to be a substitute for the present efforts to persuade religious organizations & congregations to undertake “Divest/ Reinvest” work, or “Move Our Money/Protect Our Planet.” Those important organizing efforts can and should go forward as part of efforts to organize a presence of the Faithful on the streets, with our wallets,  and in the voting booth.

And if the national governments fail in Paris, a combination of street, economic, and political action will be necessary.

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