We walked across the frozen snow, our boots creating the crunching sound that every Minnesotan recognizes as the prime indicator of frigid weather. It was so cold (as Johnny Carson would say) that your lungs hurt when you took in a deep breath of night air. But there we were — 40 strong as part of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church of Minnetonka, Minnesota — to be part of the Keystone Pipeline vigils that were happening across the country.
The vigils were organized to protest the recent U.S. State Department’s environmental impact study on the pipeline. The controversial report all but provides President Barack Obama with a green light to OK construction of the pipeline, which all but guarantees a continued destruction of life as we know it on this planet.
Need more proof of the devastating impacts of global warming and climate change caused by our dependency on fossil fuels? If so, then Google to your heart’s content. It’s all out there. But the Keystone Pipeline represents the most vivid example of how we as a country decide one side of the argument or the other. Either we say, the insanity of our energy policy stops now, with my generation and me. Or we don’t. There is no gray area. And there is no more time for sitting on the fence or saying, we can’t change our dysfunctional energy dependency so why bother. We either bother now or we (or our children or our grandchildren) perish.
So 40 of us stood in the frozen darkness to say we need to end our dependency on fossil fuel today. Will 40 people affect change? Will the more than 200 vigils that took place last night nationwide turn the tide? Don’t know. But we stood and we marched and we will continue to take action because when something is wrong, one has to say something about it. We stood last night for that reason. We all knew doing nothing was not an option.
Perhaps the best wisdom voice to recently speak on this subject is MSNBC’s Chris Hayes who, on Friday night when the report was released, spoke brilliantly about the stark reality of where we are with the Keystone Pipeline and our addiction to oil. Although he called out President Obama, this commentary is directed at all of us. I cannot improve on his oratory; that is where my wisdom lays. Anyone who has had the courage to speak up and confront his or her own family-of-origin dysfunctions knows exactly what Hayes is saying. Anyone who has taken on an alcoholic family setting—whether confronting a parent or a sibling—and has stood up and said, “this family dysfunction stops with me. It will not continue for another generation no matter what the cost to me” knows the courage of which Hayes speaks. But for anyone who has had the courage to stop a dysfunctional, addictive environment also knows that the road to recovery holds multitudes of blessings — once the first step is taken. We invite you to listen to Hayes’ commentary below.
Another reminder: We used to care about these issues and within a generation we have let slip the words of Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson: “The fate of the living planet is the most important issue facing mankind.”
And finally, another wisdom voice we have often quoted here. Diarmuid O’Murchu is a social psychologist and a member of the Sacred Heart Missionary Order who has spent most of his working life in social ministry, predominantly in London. His book Catching Up with Jesus: A Gospel Story for Our Time presents a unique and entertaining way of looking at the interconnectedness of all living things. In it, he presents a Jesus of Nazareth who carries on a conversation directed at us in the 21st century. O’Murchu ends the book with wisdom and a future vision as articulated by this Jesus.
“Everything lives on in a creative universe like ours…And energy carries information, the cumulative wisdom of the ages…My friends as you emerge from the oppressive power that has entrapped you, you will discover once more what intuitively you knew so well for thousands of years. This is a wise universe; ours is a wise earth…So, why are you humans behaving in this strangely stubborn and unenlightened way…Look around you and contemplate the wonder of all that exists in creation. Everything works in cooperative fashion as it is designed to do; and within that cooperative endeavor is a great deal of freedom and choice.
“If you choose to destroy yourselves, I am not going to play the rescuing parent. You have got to grow up and become adults. There is no space for childish power games in my relational matrix…Get into your hearts and see with the eyes of deeper vision. That is what will give you hope and meaning. And thereby you’ll access the wisdom that will enable you to live differently…Keep your attention on learning to relate rightly: with the cosmos, with the earth, with all creatures inhabiting creation, and all will be well.
“It just annoys me that it is taking you so long to grow up and become cosmic, planetary adults. Meanwhile, I and my relational matrix will forgive you for being such pests – not to me, but to the earth and to your own kind! So come on folks, time is running short and Mother Earth is getting weary of all this adolescent belligerence. The hour is fast approaching when you will have to choose between life and extinction. The choice is yours.”