Someone has said: “When times get tough, the tough get going.” For climate activists, environmentalists and all who care about creation in its infinite glorious expressions, these are troubling, difficult and painful days. Hearing the purported budgetary and policy amputations at the EPA and other government agencies portends ill for the future of all life. Accept it or not the fact is, at its most elemental, earthly life as we know it is dependent upon a sustainable, healthy planet. Removing funding for maintenance and implementation of policies and laws related to environment and climate health is equivalent to pulling the plug on our own life-support system.
Shout “No” to that! Thus, the current tough time is poking the tough to get going. This is the moment to strengthen our minds to become climate champions. As Joe Frazier once said: “Since I was a boy of five or six, I had it in my mind I would be a world boxing champion.” While you may not currently have the mind of a climate champion, act as if you do. How? Consider the following:
C – Community. Join a community which shares your compassion for and commitment to the earth and all life; join a group dedicated to climate justice and one which holds compatible moral, ethical and spiritual values. Inner strength and courage are nurtured in such a community. If you don’t have, and can’t find such a community, create it. Mia Hamm, the Olympian soccer player, in speaking about her team (community) said: “I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” Bottom line, we are both a part of and embedded in the Earth Community/Earth Family. Your community needs you; you need the community.
H –Hold fast to the goal of reducing GHGs 100% by 2050; no matter what. This is heavy lifting. Seasoning your day with dollops of humor “lightens” the work. Watch a comedy; be around little children; read funny stories or funny quotes, like this one by Joe Theismann: “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
A – Act like the future of your family, friends, and all earthly life depended on you. It does. Being “all in” communicates your concern and compassion. It also attracts others to climate advocacy.
M – Motivate. Be a good coach. Help others take their first steps toward becoming a climate champion. Stand with and alongside as folk volunteer, write a first letter to the editor, sign a petition, attend a protest, call or visit an elected official, or make a public statement. Learn and share. “Champions are not the ones who always win races – champions are the ones who get out there and try. And try harder the next time. And even harder the next time. ‘Champion’ is a state of mind…Champions are not just athletes…” Simon Sinek, Author and Ted Talk presenter.
P – Practice Positive Power. Use your own empowerment to empower others. Share what you know as well as what you are learning. Be civil, respectful, kind, patient, tolerant, teachable, etc., etc., etc., Share the heavier stuff, your disappointments, anger, hurt, etc. with trusted others in your community and move forward Practicing Positive Power.
I – Integrity. “We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…” Michelle Obama. As climate champions, we know we are standing on the side of truth. That climate change is real…that 97% or more of scientists trust their data showing that GHGs are warming the planet…that human activities are the cause of global warming and climate change. Facts matter. Evidence accumulates day by day. Truth + Honesty = Integrity.
O – Optimism. Optimism is defined as “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something”. We are living in a chaotic, tumultuous political time, things may get worse and our efforts may seem for naught, still we know that the sun will rise and set, the moon likewise. You’re making a difference. Trusting in the facts about global warming/climate change, remain optimistic about the eventual success of your community’s climate and justice advocacy.
N – Never give up. In the Apollo 13 movie someone said: “Failure is not an option.” They made it safely home. Champions never give up.
Faith Alliance would like to thank Rev. Dr. Jean Wright for this absolutely wonderful piece!