Sister Joan Brown’s Reflections from Copenhagen, Part 7

Dec 10, 2009 | Copenhagen

Find previous reflections from Sr. Joan Brown.
Find out more about the religious voice in Copenhagen.

Sr. Joan Brown, OSF, Director of NM IPL

Sr. Joan Brown, OSF, Director of NM IPL

There are so many presentations, youthful and creative demonstrations and briefings happening alongside the climate change negotiations that one can be overwhelmed. I find I need to be open and give into the flow. Today I found myself swept into a tour of the transit system of Copenhagen hosted by the transportation mayor. There is so much that the US can learn about promoting public transportation, biking and livable cities. I will bring information to the Albuquerque Climate Change Coalition, of which NM Interfaith Power and Light is part.

Another unexpected amazing gift of the day was an orange and black butterfly fluttering and landing about in the room where youth were presenting at the Intergenerational Inquiry on Climate Change Solutions. What a symbol of rebirth, transformation and the future. The symbolism of this butterfly spoke a profound message as did the International Youth Climate Movement declaration entitled, “Survival is not Negotiable”. Today was youth day and there are hundreds of inspiring, alive and concerned youth swarming the area like many fluttering orange butterflies.

The hidden messages in the day continued with an excellent presentation on recognizing and protecting human rights within the Copenhagen Statement which was presented today on International Human Rights Day. I was very moved by a representative from the Republic of Seychelles who spoke on the desperate need to have a treaty that seeks to keep climate temps below 1.5 degree rise. His people fight for survival and the plea for funds for adaptation from nations most responsible for their suffering and eventual displacement seem to fall on deaf ears. At this meeting, the failure of the US to take responsibility is glaring and comes up again and again.

Indigenous people are simply trying to make the point that they have a right to exist. Human rights issues and climate change is an enormous legal and ethical area yet to be addressed and time is clicking away. A powerful woman Inuit leader said, “Indigenous people do not want to be debated or invisibalized by politics, economics and science.”

If anyone doubts the Western science of climate change, they need to listen to the indigenous science and way of knowing through living in a place. Sitting in the packed room as the speakers presented the word pictures of their lives and the desperate lack of time, I thought, how audacious we are in the US to debate numbers and words. Are we able to listen to brothers and sisters throughout the planet?

Finally, tonight it was worth passing through rainy streets to get to the National Museum of Denmark for the program of “Voices of Hope”, Responding to the Call of the Earth with speakers Maurice Strong and Wangari Maathai and other religious leaders. The event, sponsored by the Global Peace Initiative of Women, is part of an effort to bring to the fore the transformative and prophetic voice that spirituality and religion must offer to the challenges we face. Putting words aside, it was very powerful to be in the presence of so many religious leaders and at several points send healing for the planet. Ultimately, what we do or do not do affects the future of Mother Earth.

What did you do for Mother Earth and Human Rights today? It is not too late to offer a prayer or breathe in and out love and healing for the planet and the meeting.

Peace and good,
Your sister,

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