The Common Good

Changing the Debate on Climate Action

Last Friday I found out I would be traveling to New York for a Climate Action Prayer Rally at the second presidential debate. I barely slept all weekend, I was so excited. I’ve never been north of Washington, D.C., before, never seen cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, or New York. But I wasn’t just excited to see these cities, I was excited because of the reason I was going to see these cities.

I accompanied our Creation Care Campaign Director, Alycia Ashburn, and our friends from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA) to Long Island, where we would make our presence known at the debate. 

Creation care is something I feel very passionately about. As a person of faith I think it is my responsibility to protect this beautiful planet that God has given us. To advocate for creation care at such an important venue is truly an honor and privilege; as I joined my brothers and sisters in sending forth a ripple of hope in the water and offering a witness that is faithful and just.

Our morning started off at the National Press Club in D.C., where I met Ben Lowe, YECA’s national organizer and spokesperson. He was appearing on a panel of young evangelicals who are finding a common ground on a range of issues, including immigration reform, hunger, creation care, and others.

After the panel discussion concluded, our group loaded into our van, and six hours later we arrived on Long Island. The moment I stepped out of the van I felt the excitement and energy all around me. It felt like hopping off the bus when arriving at an opponent’s stadium for a big football game. There was just an electric feel in the air.  

We loaded up boxes of Sojourners bags, backpacks full of vibrant orange YECA T-shirts, and refreshments and set off for the site of the rally. Our arrival at the site was anticipated by newfound comrades from pissedoffpolarbears.com who had elegant polar bear hats and who were also advocating for climate action. The range of protestors assembled for the debate was far and wide; from non-profit Chinese media outlets, to marijuana legalization spokespeople, Sudanese sympathizers, Tea Partiers, and Occupy protestors. Interesting conversations were had, often inspired by our bright orange T-shirts, which were attention grabbers, and our Sojo gift bags, which were conversation starters that offered an alleyway for me to talk with folks and share our story and mission and calling.

Were we successful? It’s impossible to say right now. We gathered as a group and prayed that the candidates would begin to look at the challenge that climate change poses to our generation. Neither candidate really mentioned climate change or what they’d do to address it. They talked energy, but mostly the discussion stayed on the economy and the middle class, with scant attention to the poor. 

Still, our presence made a difference. As long as we continue in this fight, good things will happen, and I truly believe that our generation will be the one that finds real solutions to this complex global threat. As Robert F. Kennedy once said “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 

That is what we did Tuesday night, we stood up for ideals, we stood up for God’s Creation, and we told the world that there is a movement amongst those of faith for creation care.

Knox Robinson is a semester intern at Sojourners. He’s currently a senior at LaGrange College, where he’s majoring in Sociology and Political Science

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