This story was posted on the DoJustice Blog on November 18, 2019, in partnership with the Office of Social Justice.
I have yet to join a Friday Climate Strike. Not because I don’t think climate is important. I understand the clear science behind climate change and have seen firsthand the devastating impacts both in Kenya and in British Columbia, Canada to human and non-human communities. I know that humans are adding more toxins, more carbon dioxide, more destruction than the earth is capable of dealing with right now. No, I agree with the words being spoken on the placards and through the megaphones.
So why haven’t I taken to the streets on a Friday to hold placards and chant my discontent? Well, the first Friday I sat at a booth at an Agricultural Awareness Days engaging with land owners about erosion on their land that is adding to habitat loss for salmon, learning their stories and encouraging them to put practices into place that provide water for their cattle as well as habitat for salmon. The next Friday I was speaking with a group of teenagers on what they could do in their classroom and school to help connect students with nature and reduce waste. Another Friday I was helping build a mini wetland, pond, river, waterfall ecosystem on the piece of property God has given to us to steward.
It’s not that I don’t think protests are valuable. When I was 17 I hit the streets to protest too. They provide an outlet for frustration, a sense of standing together in solidarity, a voicing of concerns to those in power. But honestly, I don’t remember what I was protesting against. I’m sure it had something to do with the environmental issues of the day. I do remember going home afterwards though and thinking “I don’t actually know what the issue really was and whether what I was shouting needed to be done was the best course of action”. I promised myself I would never join a protest again that I didn’t understand.
Cindy Verbeek is a DoJustice columnist and board member for Diaconal Ministries Canada. She has worked as a volunteer and board member and has been a staff member of A Rocha Canada since 1996. A Rocha is an international conservation organization working to show God’s love to all creation. She attends Houston CRC, where she coordinates the church’s community garden, and she is the regional Climate Witness Project contact for British Columbia.