I’ve been thinking about this quotation a great deal in recent days, as we’ve witnessed the Australian Prime Minister ignoring the pleas of Pacific Islander peoples, and simultaneously been encouraged to celebrate the Season of Creation. Perhaps the most challenging dilemma facing us however is the call to take action in the worldwide climate action on the 20 September.
Begun by young Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, the School Strike 4 Climate Action invites students (and indeed all people across the world) to join in rallies and marches on 20 September to express concern for the climate crisis facing us.
The time is truly now and we are here. The dilemma is – How are we to respond?
There is little doubt that the School Strike 4 Climate Action has created dilemmas for many schools and families. The idea of encouraging young people to strike runs counter to many of our beliefs about the importance of education, and the need for religious and educational groups to support the law.
It is hard however, to argue with the fundamental message of the young activists, that they are taking action because governments won’t.
The Josephite Justice Network supports the young people who will take part in the strike and Josephites will join them and their families on the 20 September. There are a number of reasons we have come to this decision:
- Laudato Si’ reminds us of the critical time in which we live – the imperative to celebrate the beauty of creation, and the associated call to commit to doing something about the climate crisis facing us
- Pope Francis constantly calls the world to conversion towards caring for the state of the planet
- Australian farmers (through drought, floods and bushfires of record severity), our Pacific neighbours, and the Great Barrier are already experiencing the negative impact of the climate crisis
- Even as we witness the acceleration of climate change, we know that it is those who are most defenceless who are most immediately affected
- Climate change is a clear global threat and the Australian Government is refusing to act
- The demands of engaged young people are both indisputable and informed, and need to be respected
- We believe that it is imperative, at this time, to support efforts being taken to counter the denials and rampant inaction of the government.
- Choosing the format of a strike will alert Australians, in ways no other action has, to the crisis facing our world
- It is our belief that we, as religious educators and inheritors of the Mary MacKillop tradition, need to back the initiatives of young people on the issue of climate change, and that includes supporting the global climate strike
- When we’re dead and gone, it will be the present generations of young people who will bear the brunt of this crisis.
Josephites will be participating in the school strike on the Friday 20 September. In Sydney, if you wish to join us, we will be on the Art Gallery side of the Domain at 11:45am. Other states and countries will inform you of their plans or you can find out here. We encourage all those who are part of the Mary MacKillop tradition to support those taking part in the global strike.
We can express our support in a number of ways. We can support the rallies and the importance of safe, non-violent and appropriate action. We can express our concern for the impact of climate change and engage in conversation in our families and communities. We can hold prayer rituals and liturgies on 20 September to celebrate the beauty of creation and lament the devastation being caused by our refusal to combat the climate crisis. We can continue to find and speak hope in the efforts of the prophetic witnesses among us.
If you wish to engage further, the following could be helpful:
- Leonardo Di Caprio exposes the reality of climate change in the National Geographic documentary
- The young Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who initiated the School strikes, is a prophetic voice for action in the current crisis in in her Ted Talk in January 2019.
Neither modern society nor most governments acknowledge at this time that the carefully balanced web of life can’t be exploited without critical consequences. As Christians and as Josephites, we believe that we are impelled to act.
Jan Barnett rsj
Josephite Justice Co-ordinator