Saying no to cynicism

By Rev David Coleman (From Seeds December 21 / January 22)

COP26 is over. The work is not. What are we learning?

The Revd David Coleman, Environmental Chaplain for Eco Congregation Scotland (and a member of AUC), has reflected on the Glasgow gathering in his blog. Here are just a few of his thoughts.

In the midst of a Blue Zone session on the role of parliamentarians, things are happening, a surprising togetherness with those who are charged with holding governments to account. . .

The Blue Zone is an amazing place. . . so many disciplines, expertises, coming together.

I’m therefore coming down so far well outside any obligatory narrative that COP will ‘fail’. The cynicism which characterises the whole thing as a waste of time should be devoutly resisted.

There is a remarkably widespread recognition in what I’m hearing, that the job of government will be in engagement with the public. Ignorance is a liability; informed and functional democracy, like spirituality, assumes the role I perhaps always hoped it might.

The old mantra of ‘education, education, education’ has a continued or recycled place in every nation.

The UN is taking the empowerment and education of women and girls with an unprecedented seriousness, which does not allow for the separation of climate justice and gender justice.

All the undeniable scientific and statistical evidence was there in your face that the marginalisation, exclusion and condescension to women, children, and the indigenous peoples of the Earth who live close to God’s Creation, is a dire and manifest liability.

Injustice – as the prophets prayed and hoped – always does come back to bite the unjust in the bum. The well-meaning suspicion that the empowerment and education of women was a plus for climate action is now well-established.

To hound a species to extinction is, objectively, to hasten our own. The strongest terms in which I have ever expressed that treasure of our faith, have this week begun to look decidedly half-hearted.

And this chastening comes more often than not, not from elders and hoary old COP regulars, but young indigenous women who, without artifice, take your breath away.

‘We are not “part” of nature. We ARE nature.’

‘I was writing a job application, and spoke in it of my animal relatives. My father became terribly anxious and said “you must never dare tell that truth to the others: they will make you suffer for it”.’ I know our churches have come some distance in this time of crisis, which is also a time of spiritual healing. Great. That’s what we now need, with the greatest urgency, to build on.

Our friend James Baghwan, from the Pacific Council of Churches, has pointed out how the traditions and spirituality of his own people are not in conflict, but enhanced by Christianity.

Ours, can I suggest, have been cowed and manipulated by other forces, but – since you’re reading this – not wounded beyond healing.

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