War and Climate Change: The Impact on Arab and Muslim Populations

Marhaba (“Hello,” in Arabic). My name is Victor Nicassio, and I’m from Los Angeles, California, in the United States. I also use my Arab name, Amin Khoury, from the Lebanese side of my family.

I want to talk a little about my family history, our family’s connection to war, and my personal experience using the healing process of Sustaining All Life to become a more effective environmental activist.

As we all know, the wars that are happening in the world cause deep hurts, oppression, death, and environmental destruction for our peoples. It is also true that past wars and violence leave painful memories in our families, and, if they’re not healed, painful emotions are passed on to children and grandchildren for many generations.

Two of my grandparents left Lebanon in 1912 to escape the war that was coming. After they left, 200,000 Lebanese people died of famine and disease during World War I.

My grandparents carried deep fears and other painful emotions with them to the Americas. They were separated from the land, culture, language, and people they had known in Lebanon. They had to make a life in a new place, and there were few opportunities for them to heal their hurts.

Without a healing process, my family experienced many problems, including epileptic seizures, drug and alcohol addiction, suicide, severe difficulties in childbirth, and oppression in the “mental health” system.

I was affected by all of this and also had other struggles. I was mixed heritage (Lebanese and Italian) and born in the United States, far from my family’s homeland. I lost much of my ancestral language and culture, felt disconnected from my people, and felt invisible and different in the United States, where just one percent of the population is Arab.

Today, more than a hundred years after my family left the Arab world, I am for the first time in my life in a country where ninety-nine percent of the population is Arab and Indigenous. I am very happy to be here. I am very proud to be back. And, as a Lebanese Christian man, I am proud to be doing this workshop with my Muslim sisters.

I have had a journey of many years using the healing process of Sustaining All Life to tell my stories, recover my sense of who I am, and reclaim my connection to my people. We all have different journeys, yet I think that a healing process is essential for all of us—to help us think more clearly, be our most powerful selves as environmental activists, and build closeness and unity across all the divisions of the oppressive society. We have much work to do to overcome the divisions of racism, sexism, classism, the oppression of young people, and all the other forms of oppression. But in Sustaining All Life we assume that it can and must be done. And the work to build a broad, united mass movement worldwide has started.

In Sustaining All Life we not only use our healing process, we also support each other to take more effective action in the world outside of our organization. In my case, I have concentrated on ending divisions based on social class—on ending the economic exploitation and oppression we call classism.

The war and environmental destruction in our society have economic roots. As an environmental movement, we need to have contact with all social classes—especially working-class and poor people, who are the majority of the world’s population. I have worked to end war and stop climate change in working-class settings and have built good relationships with working-class and low-income people that have lasted for years.

In Sustaining All Life we assume that together, as people of all class backgrounds, we can and must transform the oppressive class society in order to end climate change and restore the natural environment of the Earth.

It is great to have the opportunity to be with all of you. At COP22, we can begin the ongoing relationships that are so important as we build a united global movement. Let’s keep in contact with each other and continue developing these connections. We hope to work together with you in Sustaining All Life.

Thank you. Choukran.

Amin Khoury (Victor Nicassio)

Los Angeles, California, États-Unis /USA

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00