Becoming Warriors for Climate and Economic Justice

Diane Shisk (the Alternate International Reference Person for the RC Communities) led a Care of the Environment and Eliminating Classism Workshop this May in Warwick, New York, USA. It was a spirited workshop, inspiring us to overcome what gets in our way of being warriors for climate and economic justice.

Diane began by inviting us to identify the places where we can reliably discharge about the environment, even if they’re not the most profound. “Don’t worry tonight about your earliest unbearable memory connected to the environment. We’ll get there soon enough.” Many of us shared specific places on Earth that we love. Some of us mentioned the frustrations of our activism work. I, myself, have been angry about all the plastic waste at my office.

We recognized the history of the land surrounding the workshop site and the Indigenous people, the Leni Lenape, who once flourished there. We noticed some of the ways we continue to benefit from Indigenous knowledge of the environment, for example, in using the water reservoirs they created and eating the apples they cultivated.

Diane talked about how, because we have been desperate to survive and thrive, we humans have paid less and less attention to how our actions and social structures hurt others and the Earth. The irony is that the oppressive systems we’ve created to ensure our survival have greatly damaged our environment and brought us to the brink of extinction as a species. We should certainly do something!

Diane kept reminding us that the most oppressed people—People of the Global Majority, poor people, Indigenous people, people in countries that have been colonized, and so on—are experiencing the worst impacts of climate change and environmental degradation and that the greed inherent in capitalism is the driving force behind this.

At the same time, a tremendous amount of learning and ally-building is going on [happening], which is difficult to notice if we only pay attention to the media and our feelings. We have to stay connected to people to notice the amazing things they are doing.

Diane also summarized some of her latest thinking—which you can read in her article, “Bringing Our Strengths as RCers to the Movement to Stop Climate Change,” on pages 10 to 13 of the July 2018 Present Time.

I’ve realized that I must do my work intimately with other people, not just online or anonymously. Also, since there isn’t a lot of time to solve the crisis, we all have to take up much more space. And there is plenty of space to take up. For example, a climate justice organization I’m involved with has lost its momentum. It may be time for me to step into leadership.

We left the workshop feeling hopeful and energized.

Dave Ratzlow

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

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