Eco-Justice Ministries  

Eco-Justice Notes
The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries

Celebrating a Diverse Movement
distributed 4/20/01 - ©2001

The celebration of Earth Day is this Sunday. For the 32nd time, people across the US and around the world will use April 22 as an occasion to assert their care for our global environment.

Earth Day is an unusual observance. It is quite different from various national holidays like Memorial Day and the 4th of July in having a definite agenda for social change. It is quite different from most protest events in the diversity of issues and approaches that are brought together.

Earth Day is a meeting point for folk who pick up litter and those who call for legal rights for trees; for wilderness activists and renewable energy experts; for simple living proponents and anti-globalization protesters; for those concerned about environmental racism and those fighting for family farms. Earth Day provides a point of shared space for those who would build dams to generate CO2-free energy, and those who would tear down dams to reclaim salmon runs. It is a day that brings together folk committed to a multitude of strategies -- political, economic, personal, spiritual, practical, local and global.

Earth Day provides an opportunity for us to rejoice in our common work toward a shared vision, however diverse our issues and strategies. It is a day to remember how we are all working toward a common goal -- toward a sustainable future, where humanity lives gently in relationship to the planet and all its life.

Earth Day looks a little bit like the church to me. In the church, I hope the message is getting out that we all need to be doing SOMETHING to work for God's creation. But the ways in which we each choose to do that may be very diverse. In the church, we often have to work very hard to hold together a wide range of issues and opinions. In the church, as on Earth Day, we often have to lighten up a bit about our own pet project in order to celebrate the good work that someone is doing in another area.

Once a year, the whole broad reach of the environmental movement comes together in the celebration of Earth Day. In the church, it is a weekly project to hold together a diverse coalition in pursuit of a common goal.

As we celebrate Earth Day in our churches this Sunday, let's also give ourselves a pat on the back for the ongoing work that we do in maintaining the diversity and vitality of this movement!

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In Denver this week, a strange haze appeared which hid the mountains from our view. Visibility dropped to about 10 miles, which is a big change from the normal 100 mile view that we enjoy.

News reports explained the source of the haze, and let it be known that much of the US was experiencing a similar phenomenon.

Last week, some regions of China had large dust storms. The haze we had in Denver at the start of the week, the haze that migrated to New England at the end of this week, is made up of Chinese dust. Research planes sampling the dust clouds as it moved across the Colorado Rockies found carbon monoxide and other industrial gasses mixed in with the oriental dirt.

As we head into Earth Day, the haze is a remarkable and visible reminder that we really are part of a global environmental system. What we do, for good or ill, touches the entire planet.

May our care for the earth, our good deeds and our prayers, travel as widely and as quickly as the Chinese dust!


Peter Sawtell
Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries

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