Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Fast for the Earth is proud to have as a partner organization the Compassionate Earth Walk. Its organizer, Shodo Spring, invites our participation: "We warmly welcome your interest and support in any way. If during meditation or during your fast day, you think of us, you are part of our life-giving community. Of course we welcome walkers, donors, and information sharers as well. Please feel free to contact us." We thank Shodo for providing these details about the Walk.
The Compassionate Earth Walk is a spiritual pilgrimage toward our true home in the community of life. We choose to walk the Keystone XL Great Plains route (Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska), which is a symbol of what happens when we view the earth as an unlimited resource for our use; our response includes listening, witnessing, and offering service. The Walk will be held July-October, 2013. We will walk as a blessing to the earth and to those we meet, and as a prayer for all earth's children.
In his try for the Democratic nomination for President in the 1980's, Jesse Jackson stopped here in Brookings for a speech at South Dakota State University. He had just come from the Pine Ridge reservation. It was significant that Pine Ridge was his first stop, one of three in South Dakota.
Jackson's opening remarks in Brookings were a show stopper. He talked about his experience on the Pine Ridge. And then he said, "The soul of America will never be at rest till we redeem what we've done to Indian people."
I've pondered the phrase "the soul of America." I've been pondering it more and more these days as native people continue to be marginalized, ignored and even eradicated, by policies of governments and the devastation of exploiters.
Let me illustrate. Unknown to most, since the mainstream media seldom covers native stories, the U.S. State Department scheduled a meeting with tribal representatives in Rapid City this week. Their intention was to consult with native nations about the proposed KXL tar sands pipeline. They scheduled the hearing at a big hotel according to their D.C. time-line, without inquiring about whether it was a good time for people to be traveling hours, even days, to get to Rapid. And they scheduled the hearing in Rapid City, when federal guidelines suggest they should be going to each native nation to consult government-to-government on their home turf.
Monday, May 20, 2013
|The interfaith witness begins. More participants joined as it continued.|
On Saturday, May 18, 2013, Fast for the Earth led an interfaith prayer gathering outside the Government Center in Brookings, SD, where the organization is based. The gathering was in response to Chief Arvol Looking Horse's call for "All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer" in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and in defense of the Earth. At the close of the gathering, those present were invited to sign a letter to local governmental leaders urging them to create wiser, more Earth-friendly policies.
Fast for the Earth leadership is hand-delivering that letter today, along with packets of resource materials, to the city's mayor, city council, city manager and members of the Sustainability Council. In the coming weeks, Fast leadership will meet privately and publicly with these leaders, urging a swift transition to renewable energy sources, divestment of public funds from fossil-fuel companies, resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline, and more.
The text of the letter being delivered to the city officials appears below. You may also view photos from the gathering here.
Dear Council member,
Today, on Saturday, May 18, 2013, a group of us have gathered outside the Brookings Government Center to pray for the earth. We have come here in response to a request from Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Lakota people. He has asked people of all faiths and all nations to pray one prayer today to stop the building of the KXL tar sands pipeline and to protect the earth. Like an increasing number of scientists, Looking Horse recognizes that mining the Alberta tar sands means catastrophe, not just for those native nations already suffering from it in Canada, but for people all over the planet. The Keystone XL is the vehicle for a carbon bomb likely leading to cataclysmic consequences. As people of faith and good will, we have gathered in prayer today from at least four religious traditions—Christian, Hindu, Bahai and Buddhist—united by our concern for the planet.
A majority of the people in this country, and probably here in Brookings, recognize the seriousness of global warming and the consequences of climate change. Many people are aware that we have now passed the point of 400 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere, something the earth has not seen for at least 800,000 years. Many are also aware that the carbon "sinks" we have depended on for decades to help regulate the amount of carbon in the atmosphere (and therefore the climate) are less able to handle our massive carbon outputs. The oceans are becoming more acidic, putting sea life at risk. The rainforests are disappearing. Other forests are burning or at risk of disease and infestation, like with the pine beetles in our own Black Hills. The evidence that climate change is upon us becomes more and more evident with each passing day.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Yesterday indigenous leaders walked out on consultations with the U.S. State Department about the Keystone XL pipeline before they could begin. Get a glimpse into that story in photographs here.