“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now…. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ’Too late’.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The first public action of any kind, on any issue, after the November 6 election was on the issue of the climate; specifically, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. On Nov 18 3,000 people marched around the White House behind a football-field long, mock pipeline on which was written, “no tar sands pipeline.”
350.org was the primary organizer of this action. At it, Allison Chin, President of the Sierra Club, announced their and 350’s plans for a major demonstration in DC on February 17th on the President’s Day weekend. We will be calling upon President Obama to step up now and be the leader we need on this urgent issue.
Religious and spiritual leaders are also stepping it up. On January 15th, in front of the White House, they will join together in a “Pray-in for the Climate” organized by Interfaith Moral Action on Climate.
It is significant that religious leaders and voices are stepping forward to take action in this way. Fifty years ago, our country faced a crisis of racial inequality in the USA that was a basic threat to justice and democracy. Religious communities and others acted, and we made a difference.
Today’s deepest crisis is the danger facing the web of life upon our planet, including the human race – especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
January 15th is close enough to Inauguration Day (January 21) to make the connection with what the President should be doing in his second term, and far enough away that the action won’t drown in the media swamp
January 15th is also the actual birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He would be 84 on this day if he had not been killed in 1968 while leading the civil and human rights movement. The action will be carried out in the spirit of his work. We will gather at 11:00 am at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, a few blocks from the White House. At noon, we will walk there in a religious procession and join our voices in a prayerful vigil. We will be praying that President Obama and all of us find the strength and wisdom to lead our country and world away from the Climate Cliff.
Please note that some participants may feel called to risk arrest by nonviolently disregarding the conventional regulations and assuming positions of prayer in the area near the White House fence.
We expect to be joined by survivors of Superstorm Sandy and their religious leaders from communities like the Rockaways and Staten Island in New York.
What will we be urging that the President do to meet the needs of this critical hour in planetary time?
1. Permanently refuse permits for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, because tar-oil is among the most dangerous of the planet-heating forms of carbon
2. Call a National Summit Conference on the Climate Crisis that includes leaders of business, labor, academia, religious communities, governmental officialdom, science, and other relevant bodies
3. Publicly support and advocate for a carbon fee that will generate hundreds of billions of dollars, with provisions to ensure that working families and the poor are not harmed by higher carbon prices; for an end to subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries; and for substantial subsidies for research, development, and use of renewable, sustainable and jobs-creating clean energy sources.
We invite and urge all people concerned about the climate crisis to join us on January 15th at the White House.
To our President and Congress we address the prophetic words of Dr. King spoken at another moment of crisis: “This is a time to break the silence!”
Ted Glick is on the Steering Committee of IMAC and is National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.