It was estimated that over 20,000 people participated in past Sunday’s march, making it the biggest climate march ever in Sydney. The main March was preceded by services in the Uniting and Catholic churches, whose groups then met together to join the march wearing purple to distinguish the group identifying as “faith groups and diverse cultures”. That group including many banners focusing on the Papal encyclical and a contingent from our Sydney Christian Meditation Community. The march was led by a large contingent of Pacific Islanders, including those from Tuvalu, Kiribate and Papua New Guinea who are on the front line of already experiencing the effects of extreme weather conditions on their livelihoods and homes. The whole march encompassed a vast collection of groups working towards different aspects of our environmental challenges, recognising that it is our common home at stake and there is no Planet B.
In Australia, we are starting to notice a significant shift in the collective consciousness relating to accepting and facing the consequences of our way of life and taking action to prevent further deterioration in the environment and climate.
With a government beholden to the vast coal mining industry as a mainstay of our economy, there has been much reluctance to meaningful action at a political level. This is despite Australians globally having the highest per capita carbon emissions and despite living in the South Pacific region where many smaller countries are already facing disastrous effects of climate change: raising the question of our responsibility as the richest country in the region, for possible environmental refugees in the near future.
Religious groups and a growing network of faith-based environmental groups are now taking an active role in urging action for interlinked social and environmental justice and are participating in many areas of environmental advocacy; from physically opposing mining to political advocacy. The Papal encyclical has provided a new impulse to see the interconnections between social and environmental injustices and our responsibility to act. Hope lies in the coming together of these many religious, social and environmental movements.
The coming Meditatio event, Meditation and the Environment, is giving our ACMC the opportunity to engage with environmental groups to offer the understanding that transformation needs to begin with inner transformation; leading to a new consciousness of our interconnectedness and an awareness and experience of how meditation can heal us, and so heal the environment.