Eco-Justice Ministries  

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

Fun with Eco-Justice Ethics
distributed 4/24/20 - ©2020

I'm ready for a change of pace. How about you?

It has been a hard year, and we're only in April! There was the turmoil of impeachment back in January. (Only three months ago?) The entire global society has been turned upside down with the still-spreading pandemic. In the US, essential environmental laws continue to be weakened, and matters of civil rights (including voting rights) are threatened. This week, as we observe the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is painfully obvious that our planet home is in serious trouble. At the center of this Earth Week, the superbly done, and rapidly assembled, on-line messaging of Earth Day Live -- with 72 hours of powerful programming, still running through Friday evening -- has driven home the urgent need for deep and transformative change.

Oof. Intellectual and emotional overload is a reasonable response to a time like this.

So today, I invite you to watch two very short videos (one and three minutes). They're delightful, memorable expressions of core eco-justice principles. In the flood of information and issues that surround us, these two take us back to the ethical basics. They center us in why we have committed to the essential work of protecting creation. And they're just plain fun.

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We'll start with the shorter and the older of the two -- created by the Center for Global Community in 2006. It is a brilliant and quirky piece of moral communication.

The Wombat is a one minute long animation that spells out the basics of an eco-justice ethical perspective. The script for this short film uses just 168 words, all of them familiar to any child.

I suggest that you watch it now, before reading more.

With a flurry of engaging images, the four-footed narrator asserts three truths:

  1. Earth is our home -- cherish it and protect it.
  2. We have to get along with our neighbors, and learn to share.
  3. Everything is connected. They all depend on one another. If you ignore that, you're doomed.

Those are foundational moral perspectives, which the wombat backs up with just enough detail -- both verbal and visual -- to be clearly realistic. In 60 seconds and three themes, the basics of a comprehensive ethical perspective are spelled out in an engaging and memorable way.

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The second short video is fairly recent (December of 2018), but it has a history going back eight years.

The song, "Do It Now", is the heart of an initiative that blossomed in Belgium. During a two-day period in the fall of 2012, 80,000 people gathered in 180 town squares to sing the song as an expression of political unity and climate activism. A month later, 300,000 school kids, in 725 schools, also joined together in singing. There was some marvelous community organizing involved in this big project, and some superb video productions spread it even more widely. The "Sing for the Climate" initiative was very influential in getting the Belgian government to commit to strong action on climate change, and the song has been an important motivator at several of the UN climate negotiations.

The video that I invite you to watch comes from a school in Istanbul, Turkey. The 2,000 students, parents, faculty and staff join together in an exuberant, collective performance of the song, mixed with scenes of their community life that echo the song's message.

Watch it now. (If you're really pressed for time, all four verses of the song are done in the first minute and 45 seconds of the 3:25 video.)

Often, advocacy about the climate emergency hits us up with details about the science of global warming. We find out about climbing CO2 levels, melting ice, rising seas, extreme weather, and the injustice of how the hardest impacts fall on those who have done the least to cause the problem. The science is important, and overwhelming.

"Do It Now" condenses the moral message into four short verses, and the second verse really sums up the whole thing:

We're on a planet that has a problem.
We need to solve it, get involved, and do it now -- now -- now!
We need to build a better future, and we need to start right now.

The "Do It Now" song presumes the body of facts about climate change, but it does not name them or dwell on them. Because we all know the essential facts, it can move to an assertion of truth: We're on a planet that has a problem. Like the framers of the US Declaration of Independence, the facts are taken as beyond debate. "We hold these truths to be self-evident."

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It has been a rough year. We've been buffeted by a series of unprecedented and disorienting crises. We've had to make sense of complicated and painful new realities.

Going back to core principles can help us keep our bearings in times like these. Having fun and creative expressions of those moral centers makes it easier to hold onto what is most important.

We have to get along with our neighbors. Everything is connected. We need to build a better future, and we need to start right now.

Those simple themes guide me and sustain me. I hope they bring you a smile, and some hope for the days ahead.


Peter Sawtell
Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries

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Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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