Many individuals and groups are calling on world governments to take immediate action to address the climate emergency. Building a large, strong, united movement is key to success.
As the climate emergency escalates, our movement is growing rapidly—and the speed of growth is outpacing our capacity to fully address the longstanding oppressions in society that show up within and between constituent groups. It is easy for misunderstandings to arise and mistakes to be made as we work together.
We want to acknowledge the significance, and danger, of this historical moment. In the past, during similar moments, great harm and human suffering resulted because people failed to turn toward unification and liberation. Late-stage monopoly capitalism is collapsing and desperate. More and more of the world’s resources are being put into the hands of a few, while the working class is being distracted and divided.
Fascism is rising around the globe. The following are being manipulated to that end: racism, Islamophobia, classism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, nationalism, and more.
Fear is being used to mobilize people. Those in power are encouraging and widely using violence, including pursuing wars for the purpose of profit. All of this is happening in the context of unprecedented destruction of the environment.
Systems of oppression use a divide-and-conquer strategy. They try to turn us against each other in order to maintain power and weaken movements for change. We cannot allow this to continue to happen. It is not enough to privately oppose these developments. We need to stand together in unity to turn this historical tide.
Let us commit ourselves to doing the following:
- Remembering our large common goal to end the climate emergency—a goal that requires us to work together
- Standing together as we face our mistakes and misunderstandings, work to resolve our differences, and express our commitment to unity
- Not allowing the differences to divide us and weaken our efforts and standing against any forces that try to manipulate and divide us
- Not fighting among ourselves in our own constituencies
- Working to resolve the differences both now and in the future and to create the conditions that will allow us to speak with the voice of a united people
- Agreeing to stay in coalitions with each other even when we have disagreements. It is not necessary that we agree on all issues in order to keep working together.
Addressing the ways we have been set against each other can take much listening, discussion, and time on everyone’s part. Let us commit to doing this work. Let us commit to teaching each other about the elements of each of our oppressions so we understand more fully what it will take to be allies to each other’s peoples. It is possible to oppose all oppression and seek everyone’s liberation and at the same time build unity and connections.
When a mistake made in an organization working for social change is used as the justification for disrupting and undermining the work of that organization, this perpetuates the general pattern of divisiveness running rampant in our society at the present time.
Let us commit to staying united as we resolve any differences. Let us continue to work on any differences that cannot be resolved quickly. Let us commit to solidifying our connections, strengthening our movement, and ensuring that mistakes are not repeated. We have much to learn from one another.
How can we best come together to do this work, while moving forward together? We offer some possibilities:
- Use every opportunity to speak up—in our homes, our workplaces, our social places, the political sphere, and more—about the importance of including all people and developing unity among all our peoples
- Find and create opportunities to oppose division and separation
- Find and create opportunities to meet separately in caucus groups of separate identities and then together across identity groups (there is no contradiction between being for our own people and at the same time being for each other’s people)
- Organize and sponsor listening sessions and listening circles in our communities, and train people to listen
We can challenge
- feelings of discouragement, despair, and hopelessness
- fears of speaking up
- fears of listening to viewpoints that we disagree with
- difficulties in being fully for our own people and fully for other people
- all that would keep us from building broad-based communities
- where we are still vulnerable to being confused about each other’s peoples
- where we made a decision to “go it alone,” to be separate; feelings about being divided
In the coming period, we can each choose a perspective of hope, courage, and unity.