Author: Breeze Richardson
This afternoon Focus Groups were held around areas of concern that those gathered wanted to explore more direct action around; I choose “Liberating the Earth from Consumerism, Over-Consumption and Greed.”
How can we bare witness to these concerns with clear language that’s inviting, not berating?
There are 5 parts to prophetic witness. One might feel led to do just one; or might feel led to do more:
- speak out (Speak Truth to Power)
- build and demonstrate the alternative
- celebrate what around you that is already good
- take symbolic and practical action
What does it mean to “live a good life” today? How does an individual answer such a question, and find resources to explore & discover new answers?
(a list which is in no way exhaustive, but represented by those gathered)
• Living Witness Project (of Britain Yearly Meeting) – to help Meetings learn how to do this corporately
• Friends Testimonies and Economics (a project of Quaker Earthcare Witness) – learning/teaching about our economic policies in a context of ecological impact
• Quaker Institute for the Future, a research initiative which has just published Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy (2009)
• Quaker Earthcare Witness – demonstrating how we can better live with right relations towards the earth; has many online resources on specific issues
• National Council on Churches (NCC) Eco-Justice Department
• Mennonite Creation Care Network – includes resources on connecting to Mennonite farmers, eco-friendly conference/gathering planning, and other initiatives
One particularly interesting action that caught my attention was the use of a Volunteer Fuel Tax Fund. One participant shared the success of his congregation to implement a voluntary tax each participating church member pays to a special fund, equal in amount to their personal consumption of gasoline (so for example, his family pays 50-cents a gallon). The money raised has refurnished the building: new environmentally-friendly windows, better insulation and low-flow toilets, to name a few. Wall cards accompany the renovations, explaining their funding. (Note: another participant mentioned a Quaker initiative that has begun along these lines, called the “Dime-a-Gallon Project“.)
In the end, we authored two-sentences at the direction of Gathering organizers:
We witness… and lament our participation in our economic system, which has led to catastrophic results: over-consumption, unequal distribution of resources, and the destruction of God’s Creation.
We are called to… return to our communities to speak out about the structural economic injustice around us, reduce our ecological footprint, and seek to live in right relationship with all God’s Creation.