AR to NYC

By Donnal Walter |  October 1, 2014

On September 21st, Donnal and Rachel Walter represented St. Margaret's at the People's Climate March in New York City...

My heartfelt thanks to St. Margaret's for becoming a Climate March Faith Community and to the many of you who supported me and the others who went to New York City for the People's Climate March (PCM) on your behalf. Here is our report back to you, beginning with a few numbers.

We took 110 passengers on two buses. Two-thirds were from Arkansas, nearly a third from Tennessee, and half-a-dozen from Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama. There were five families, a dozen teenagers altogether, nearly fifty college students (from UCA, Sewanee, and at least four other campuses), non-students in their 20s to 50s, and quite a few seniors (including me). The age range was 13-70. We had racial and ethnic diversity, a range of educational backgrounds, differing religious and faith perspectives, and varied life experiences. This diversity was by design and by providence.

So we did not agree on every point, of course, but what this motley crew had in common was (1) a commitment to fighting man-made global warming and climate change, (2) the awareness that this requires an equal dedication to justice and equality, and (3) a deep sense of compassion and consideration toward all. Our two buses were in essence a microcosm of the PCM.

I should add that on a trip like this there was plenty of opportunity for grumbling and complaining. What I experienced, however, as did all I believe, was patience, graciousness, and frankly love. Remarkable!

The big number is the size of the march itself. One early estimate was 310,000, but by the end of the day many counts were over 400,000. Expectations had been high, but we more than doubled these. The crowd spanned many NY city blocks, took hours to BEGIN marching, and had to be dispersed before the official end of the march due to its size. The motto had been, "to change everything we need everyone" and it seemed as though everyone had shown up.

Our two were among 550 buses plus a number of trains, vans, and rideshares, about 30,000 people from outside the region. In a sense we hardly mattered, with all buses being less than 8% and our own less than a fifth of 1% of the total crowd. In the important sense, though, this is exactly what the march was ALL about. We saw signs from nearly every state and we were representing many more who wanted to be there.

Furthermore, there were at least 2646 other events in 162 countries demanding action on climate change. "Now, more than ever, we are a big, beautiful, unified movement coming together around the world to demand a brighter and more just future for everyone."

The perspective I take from this experience is that humankind is indeed one. Until we understand this fact we are doomed to destroy the Earth and create our own hell. When we truly understand our interconnectedness, however, we can begin to build a world of justice, peace, and prosperity.


Read more about our Celebrations:
Christian-Muslim Dialogue
The Sweet Life

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