The Climate/Jobs/Justice March this past weekend in D.C. was hot, hopeful and defiant enough to rally hundreds of thousands of marchers, once again, as well as across 370 cities and town squares across sinking land masses everywhere. This is becoming a habit-forming movement in this era, and just in the nick of time.
(our beloved band of marchers in D.C.: Nate Yordon, me, Pam Arifian, and Tim Hughes)
A bunch of us were sitting on a friend’s front porch afterwards, panting and reflecting as the sun set into the hills of Arlington, VA, and my friend Marnie Green Keller, who happens to be a brilliant strategist and marketer declared, “The Democratic Party has a messaging problem. It’s not communicating a rallying message of urgency, hope and engagement.” Indeed, and the Republican Party has its own descent of chaos, best summed up as #weblameObama. So we are proud to offer new mottos for both:
First, the Republican Party: ‘We F@cked Up.’ It’s short, easy to remember, and even true. And it’s Biblical in its collective confessional. Everyone loves to root for the redemption story. Or substitute ‘We screwed up,’ in a nod to the evangelical crowd. This motto would be paired with a singular bold initiative to launch and live out its redemption. ‘Feed My Sheep’. This is what Jesus said to Peter after he was Resurrected, over breakfast on the beach (John 21:15-17), after he asked Peter, “Do You Love Me?’ When Peter answered, “Yes, Lord… you know I do,” Jesus responded, “then Feed My Sheep’. What if the Republicans single handedly took that charge, and literally set about ending hunger in America, especially ending hunger among our nation’s children? This is so doable… and would be a YUGE win for whoever took credit. As they are successful with this, they can take the show on the road and avert famine in Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, all areas affected by desertification, drought, food shortages, with whatever model emerged as best fit with the local communities in need. They could use whatever innovation, delivery system, corporate technology that our best economic engines have to offer to implement ‘unlocking the food’ and bolstering the security of the nation by ensuring everyone is fed: the best and the worst, just try it out a public works/jobs project, from drone-drop food packets across the mid-west, to subsidized FedEx, Amazon and PeaPod prepared food delivery, Postal service expansion to food delivery, or public-works grocery stores in food deserts, schools, communities, coast-to-coast. Do you love your country? Do you love your country? Do you love your country? Then feed its children. 'Feed my sheep.' Show us that love.
I was so moved by Nicolas Kristof’s piece in the NYTimes ‘What We Saw in Madagascar’- (https://nyti.ms/2i0xlva), an expose´ on the climate change refugees facing famine, that I was ashamed we were congratulating ourselves through shared social media of the best signs in the marches instead of reflecting how the damage wreaked by our carbon-heavy habits and consumption devastate real people, especially real vulnerable children.
Overheard shouted to child running ahead: 'Kids! Stay with your hive!' Washington, D.C.
When I was involved in the Youth Ending Hunger movement of the mid-1980’s, we realized that we had the resources and technology to end hunger by the year 2000 on planet earth. All we lacked was the collective will, so young people and students across the country got busy rallying that will to end hunger, the same will that supported the research and implemented effective end to polio, smallpox and even tuberculosis. Yet 17 years after that deadline came and went, after the United Nation Millennium Goals were still unrealized, not only are we facing widespread global famine crisis again, and again, we are witnessing in real time the millions of children who are dying from our collective carbon emissions, disproportionately caused in part by a mere 350 million Americans and our stubborn refusal to transition to renewable energy. What if the Republican Party demonstrated their love of country by launching an ambitious campaign to feed American children first, and then spread that (pro-life) witness to the global children devastated and suffering tortured death as a result of these consumption patterns and emissions they cause?
That brings us to the Democrats' badly needed new motto. “It’s Not Too Late!” What if DNC focused on transitioning to renewable energy, and mitigating the devastation of climate change, as its number one urgent action? “It’s NOT too late!” Hopeful, reassuring, urgent and even or almost true. The Democratic Party works collectively on turning back the tide of climate change, and fast-tracking the transition to renewable energy sources, to sustainable agriculture and sustainable forestry, fishing and development of natural resources, and let this over-arching imperative guide and inform all other policy and legislation, and campaigns. Let the Republicans head the ‘Feed my people’ initiative, and support that triumph and win. Let them be first in line, Democrats bring the sweeping systemic change that supports and reinforce these solutions. Because we all win. The planet wins. Our political system emerges stronger for restoring a sustainable, much more engaged and popular part of daily life of Americans: civic engagement and sustainable energy systems and economy boosted by green energy and food sufficiency.
It’s almost too late, but not quite… to take back the future of the planet for the children, if we act boldly and cooperatively on these simultaneous imperatives now. Neither of these mottos corresponds with a singular candidate. The fate of the planet and the republic is too important. We must focus with our collective outraged and even exuberant voices, our millions of marching feet, all of our creativity, resourcefulness and faithfulness now. We take to the streets. We take to the Senate. We take to the halls of government, boardrooms, corporate shareholders, our sacred places- we launch boycotts, disrupt fossil fuel corporate-addicted, dismantle the economic and incarceration status quo, and reform the racist economic, justice and military systems that enable the true costs to be hidden from our view and conscience, vote and show up in the public sphere like our lives depended on it. Because they do, and the future of our Mother, our beloved Planet Earth does too. (And let’s impeach the illegitimate President, while we’re at it!)
The real threat is not the tacky, egotistical orange-faced Loser of the Popular Vote Stand-in for U.S. President, but the systems that prop up, enable, normalize and accept him as a legitimate substitute for moral governance. That’s our job. All of us. We can’t outsource our survival and future to a few political junkies, or those who buy their way into earshot or twitter feed of the Oval office. Every one of us privileged to stand up for our own voice, agency, and its OUR moral imperative must raise them now in a collective chant of urgent change: ‘We screwed up, it’s not too late, let’s fix this.’ Let’s feed the kids, mitigate the damage on our watch, save our country and this one, wild, beautiful planet while we’re still here. Then we’ll be proud members of a ‘We DID it’ party, a new cooperative party that renders the old 2-Party system a quaint 2.0 of divisive rhetoric and big money, the forgotten has-been of history that it deserves to be. See you at the next march. I know you’ll have the best signs. I’ll save you a space.
Peace, Creativity & Hope: This is what democracy looks like.