14 June 2009

175 Days - What I Learned from "Fierce Light" is the Importance of Love and Solidarity

We saw the movie Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, by Canadian filmmaker and media activist Velcrow Ripper, last night. It's currently playing at film festivals and in selected theatres around the world.

One of the best things about the movie was that we enjoyed a full half hour of it before hearing that "hope" word. What a wonderful half hour! I'm so sick of "hope" — people around the world are dying, starving, being flooded or parched, ill, losing their homes and their whole nations because of global climate change, but people in my culture have to feel "hope." Blech. Hope is a drug that takes other people's pain away — from you. Feel the pain, people! Feel their pain! Feel your own anguish! Feel it, then do something about it. (That is when spirit meets action.)

Anyway, a shining light in the movie was Congressman John Lewis, a hero of the 1960s civil rights movement in America, who was beaten almost to death for taking part in a peaceful march for voting rights (on a day later known as Bloody Sunday).

Mr. Lewis exuded a calm during his interview that I have long forgotten. He reminded me of the importance of doing our activist work in a spirit of love and solidarity — and compassion.

I came away with this zany urge to send flowers to Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Exxon is the world's biggest oil and gas company, which makes Tillerson one of the Earth's biggest enemies and one of my least favourite people on the face of the planet.

I realized that we can't save our love and compassion just for the poor and climate change vulnerable (though they certainly deserve all our solidarity). Rich people like Tillerson, whether they know they are frying their grandchildren's future or they are so ignorant that they don't realize they're doing it, are going to hell either way. (Oops, sorry, that wasn't very loving, was it?) I'll report back if I do send those flowers. You could help me figure out what to write on the card!

In a post to ACTivist Magazine, Fierce Light's Ripper included a poem from the Dalai Lama. I'd love for the Dalai Lama to get right on board with climate change (since it's the biggest spiritual crisis and the greatest threat to human rights ever), but that's another story. [UPDATE: Turns out he's done it! He just needed to see those Tibetan glaciers melting before he decided to give it his focus.] I'll leave you with his poem:

No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
In your country too much work is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone [including the CEO of Exxon]
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up.

— The Dalai Lama

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?