Tetet Nera-Lauron: Different but same-same? Movement building in times of right-wing populism

Tetet Nera-Lauron is the Program Manager of IBON International’s Climate Justice Program, coordinator of the Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change, representative to the Building Block on Climate Finance, and facilitation group member of Climate Justice Now and the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice. She is also one of the co-chairs of CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, an open platform that unites civil society around the world in the subject of development effectiveness. She lives in the Philippines.

We find ourselves in very strange and difficult times now —with the rise of protectionist governments and rhetoric; blatant xenophobia, sexism and discrimination; governments turning their concerns more and more inward (and backward, in most instances) to the detriment of the world at large, and power remaining in the hands of the wealthy elite and corporations. And in communities around the world we see this manifest as environmental destruction, violation of human rights, privatization of public goods, and even further decreases in access to public services. In these conditions—in these times—it’s sometimes hard to see even a ray of hope at the end of this tunnel.

Populism, by definition, is “a thin-centered ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic camps, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite,’ and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale (general will) of the people”.

Populism in itself is not a dangerous thing. It is the combination of populism and a host ideology that one should be weary of.

While the world is deeply worried about what is happening in for example USA, waves of various populisms appeared in Southeast Asia in the wake of the Asian economic crisis of 1997, which also signaled the abrupt end to the spectacular rise of the so-called ‘Asian tigers.’

What we saw were populist ‘crusaders’, who mobilized for electoral aims by using nationalism, combined with an attack on the national elites and an attack on neoliberal globalization. They were eventually elected into presidency. Many of these had relatively short and unsuccessful terms of office, like Joseph Estrada (the Philippines) Roh Moo-hyun (South Korea), Chen Shui-bian (whose “government of the people” in Taiwan collapsed just after five months), and Thaksin Shinawatra (ousted as prime minister of Thailand after large protests and a military coup).

And now, we have Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte, the Philippines’ 16th president, whose overwhelming victory has changed the political landscape dramatically. He was not the smooth and suave politician; on the contrary, he was rough and crude. He promised change – and the people, tired and weary from decades of broken promises wanted change and reason to be hopeful. And while there have been some whiffs of fresh air, nine months into office is ample time to get to the fundamentals.

Read the rest in Karibu Foundation‘s March 2017 newsletter.

Hot Off the Press! Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice

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The book is out! Great work by the one of the most innovative Christian movements today. How do we bear forward the gospel at the end of the Anthropocene? Love the watershed you’re with (to paraphrase Crosby, Stills, and Nash).

Order lots of these books here.

My poem “Prophecies from the Watershed Conspiracy” is included in the foreword, along with an essay by  Denise Marie Nadeau, a French and Mi’kmaq Canadian and dance movement therapist, who has made the Nibi ceremony for the protection of water.

This collection introduces and explores “watershed discipleship” as a critical, contextual, and constructive approach to ecological theology and practice, and features emerging voices from a generation that has grown up under the shadow of climate catastrophe.

Watershed Discipleship is a “triple entendre” that recognizes we are in a watershed historical moment of crisis, focuses on our intrinsically bioregional locus as followers of Jesus, and urges us to become disciples of our watersheds.

Bibliographic framing essays by Myers trace his journey into a bioregionalist Christian faith and practice and offer refections on incarnational theology, hermeneutics, and ecclesiology. The essays feature more than a dozen activists, educators, and practitioners under the age of forty, whose work and witness attest to a growing movement of resistance and reimagination across North America.

Contributors reread both biblical texts and churchly practices (such as mission, baptism, and liturgy) through the lens of “re-place-ment.” It’s a comprehensive and engaged call for a “Transition church” that can help turn our history around toward environmental resiliency and social justice, by passionate advocates on the front lines of watershed discipleship.

Order lots of these books here.

A Prayer for World Climate Change Meetings

People form a human chain to show solidarity for climate change after the cancellation of a planned climate march ahead of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris
The Climate Caretakers Prayer

Creator God,

We thank you for an opportunity to come together as a global community to address such an important issue that is affecting so many people worldwide.

Please be with our leaders from around the globe. Give them wisdom as they seek a universal agreement on climate change. Give them minds and hearts that are open to the cries of those suffering the most from our harmful actions. Guide them to listen to the voices of all and come to a consensus on how to move forward in a manner that will benefit not the most powerful among us, but the most vulnerable.

Please grant us wisdom, as well, as we seek to be lights in our home communities. Keep us from fruitless arguments, and provide us with words of encouragement and edification as we seek to engage positively with those around us on the issue of climate change. Let our words and actions become one, stemming from our love for your creation and your people. Make us instruments for your peace.

Amen.

Shoes of the Fisherman: Pope Francis Sends Shoes to Climate Talks

shoes“Two black shoes belonging to Pope Francis have joined thousands of other pairs at an installation in Paris on Sunday, as part of a global campaign ahead of the UN climate summit in the French capital next week.

The installation is one of more than 2,300 events taking place in countries around the world as part of the Global Climate March, on the eve of the Paris summit. It was arranged by the worldwide citizen’s network Avaaz, after police cancelled a planned demonstration citing security concerns.

In cities across the globe hundreds of thousands of people have already taken to the streets to urge their leaders to commit to 100% clean energy sources by the year 2050.” From Vatican Radio (29 Nov 2015)

Read more here.

Poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner: Art v. Climate Tyranny

Twenty-six year old poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, addressed the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit last year. She performed this video poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem,” written to her daughter. The poem received a standing ovation. Kathy is also a teacher, journalist and founder of the environmental NGO, Jo-jikum.

Art is the only thing that can stand in the way of tyranny.

Twelve Pacific Climate Warriors walked from Assisi to Rome last week and are praying in St. Peter’s Square. The Peoples’ Pilgrimage will then continue their walk to Paris in time for the UN climate talks.

Pope Francis: ‘ The Earth Never Forgives’

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“The Pope again mentioned a comment he heard many years ago from an elderly peasant: “God always forgives; men forgive at times; but the Earth never forgives. We must care for our sister the Earth, our Mother Earth, so that she does not respond with destruction”. “Faced with the goods of the Earth, we are required ‘not to lose sight of the origin or purpose of these goods, so as to bring about a world of fairness and solidarity’, says the social doctrine of the Church. The Earth has been entrusted to us in order to be a Mother to us, able to give what is necessary for each person to live. … The Earth is not an inheritance we have received from our parents, but rather a loan from our offspring to us, so that we may take care of it, enable it to continue and restore it to them”.

“The stewardship of the Earth is not a task exclusive to Christians, but instead applies to all”, he continued. “I entrust to you what I said during the Mass of the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome: ‘I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! … We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness’. Care for the Earth not only with goodness, but also with tenderness”.–Pope Francis to business leaders focused on “Feeding Our Planet – Energy for Life” on Feb. 7, 2015

Two Videos to Catch Up on Keystone XL Resistance Movement

archimedes-300x224Since 2011, I’ve placed my “Archimedes lever” in the battle against the Keystone XL pipeline. From there I hope to be part of a living Christian witness to tip the world toward renewable energy and away from climate disaster.

On Sunday, more than 350 students were arrested in front of the White House as part of #XLDissent public demonstration. There is a lot of energy in this campaign!

I’ve written, prayed, spoken publicly, organized, led Bible studies, met with State Department officials, talked with White House officials, trained activists, led public worship, signed numerous petitions, gotten arrested, spent time in jail and in the court room, given urine samples, read lots of books and articles, met new friends, and spent more time than expected reading transnational banking and energy industry reports. This is one face of Christian witness in the 21st century.

Thanks goodness, not everyone does everything. So sometimes it’s helpful to have a catch up on issues you care about but can’t stay in the weeds on.

So here are two videos on the anti-Keystone XL movement that will catch you up on where we are. The first is an 8-minute news clip that gives an overview of the pipeline itself and where big business is with the issue. The second is a recap of the history of the Keystone XL resistance movement.

Also see the cool movement timeline created by the folks at 350.org.

Rabbi Waskow’s 10 Plagues of Climate Change

Rabbi Waskow arrested. (Photo Credit: John Zanga, #NoKXL Actions, D.C.)
Rabbi Waskow arrested. (Photo Credit: John Zanga, #NoKXL Actions, D.C.)

It gladdened my heart to be with Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other people of good will outside the White House on Thursday for the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate’s public witness marking Passover and Holy Week.

Rabbi Shneyer blew the shofar to announce the danger President Obama is putting the planet in by not denying the Keystone XL pipeline. And we prayed together to claim our human right of eminent domain over corporate interests that endanger the earth.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center, one of the great Jewish leaders of the justice movement in America, at age 80, was one of the 15 who were arrested and taken to jail in Anacostia.

Here’s an excerpt from Rabbi Waskow’s Huffington Post article describing the event:

“In a circle of 70 people in the midst of Pennsylvania Avenue, we had just completed a religious service. Rabbi David Shneyer had blown the shofar of warning and liberation. We had heard the Muslim call to prayer from the Quran, an invocation of the Four Winds in the spiritual tradition of the First Nations, and a Christian prayer.

Continue reading “Rabbi Waskow’s 10 Plagues of Climate Change”

Maira Kalman: Walking Wakes Your Mind

“Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty,” says artist and author Maira Kalman as she shares her thoughts on the difference between thinking and feeling, the inspiring power of walking in the city … any city. Bright and energizing. Taste and see how good it is!

Video: Connecting the Climate Change Dots

Last week I joined with folks around the world in “connecting the dots” on global climate change. Here’s a video from the worldwide event and a photo of our little “connect the dots” group at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C. Check out Climate Dots.