For the past 30 years, through my work with Maryknoll and Pax Christi International, I've come to know grassroots communities around the world in situations of war and poverty. My mission focus base been largely international, but people, were in the "center of my screen." The environment, I thought, would have to wait.
A few weeks ago, I went with two of my grandchildren, Lauren (10) and Bobby (9), to see the documentary Hubble, which is about NASA's final shuttle expedition to repair a a broken part of the Hubble telescope. We watched in awe at the spectacular photos of the expanding universe. What an amazing sense these photos give of our own location as humans who are part of a larger earth community, who are part of a cosmos with which our own future is inextricably linked.
The well-being of people and the survival of the planet are "of a piece." Around the world, food insecurity, rising sea levels, warming temperatures, the frequency of terrifying storms, and the accelerated extinction of species all point to natural systems and patterns spinning out of control. Just in the past few weeks here in the United States, the devastation of massive flooding, deadly tornadoes, torrential downpours, severe drought, and other extremes of weather have broken our hearts.
This week the largest U.S. social protest against climate change, to stop the building of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline though six American states, is taking place in Washington, D.C., in front of the White House. I plan on being there.
I'm joining those who will "sit-in" so that President Obama will "stand-up" against oil conglomerates. I will risk arrest because I am horrified by the damage we are doing to the beautiful earth, our only home.
Unless we dramatically change the way we live, there will be no future of peace or human dignity. I'm risking arrest to take responsibility for my own unsustainable living on a fragile planet. I'm risking arrest because I owe it to people living on the margins around the world who feel the effects of climate change first -- and hardest.
I'm going to President Obama's house to call him to his senses regarding climate change and the sustainable revolution. It's time for a new global economy that doesn't pit people against the planet.
I'm risking arrest because I owe it to my children and grandchildren.
Marie Dennis is the co-president of Pax Christi International and director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns in Washington, D.C. Find out more about the Tar Sands Action and the day of religious witness on August 29.