Message From the President (October 2017)

The Right to Breathe

The environment is in the news a lot this year and for many different reasons. President Trump announcing his intention to pursue U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreements seemed to “start” some of these conversations. There were record temperatures in the southwest of the United States in June. Even the creators of the television show Game of Thrones stated they had a hard time finding winter locations because of global warming.
When searching for a new job in Indianapolis a few years ago, my resumé ended up at a nonprofit organization that cares about trees, butterflies and people. Every day I work to educate people and raise money to plant more trees, bring back the pollinators that keep up our food chain and help communities thrive in the heart of urban sprawl. I can spout crazy facts about how greenspace is necessary for girls to make better choices in school and that neighborhoods with more trees have less crime.

Now, no matter how much of a “city person” or a “country person” you are, put down however you are reading this and go outside, just for a second or two. Find a tree and take a deep breath. How do you feel? As children of God, the Creator, nature was made for us to experience. All children of God deserve the right to breathe the breath of God through trees and greenspaces.

Climate justice is important because it means green for the least of these (see Matthew 25:31-46). We are called to restore God’s creation to a place of justice, challenged to see ourselves as capable leaders who can not only make a difference but also transform our world into one that seeks climate justice. When we perceive the earth as belonging to us to use, exploit and do with as we please, the earth’s ecosystems and the earth’s people suffer. Our greed, our desire for convenience, our overconsumption all cloud our vision, so it becomes much harder to focus on the common good. Our perceptions of the creation, the Creator and our role in creation are all very crucial in whether we contribute to climate injustice or to climate justice.

I don’t always feel like an advocate for the environment, but as children of God with a calling to follow Jesus Christ, we are all called to advocacy. Just as our walk in faith is different, advocating for the environment means something different for each of us. I don’t compost, but I prune and maintain my trees to keep them growing. I pay to have my recycling separated from the trash. I make changes to my retirement funds to make sure I am investing in pro-environment companies.

The leaves are changing, and it’s getting cooler here in Indiana. It’s my favorite time of year. Every year I am reminded of God’s blessings seen in the changing seasons. With each change I remember that it is up to me to care for my immediate environment and work for others who can’t.

It’s not too late to become an advocate for the environment, because we are already advocates for the Creator. As women of faith, we are called to work with and for women, youth and children around the world. We are called to protect our environment, one step at a time, and invite others to join us. Together we are bold agents of change around the world. Thank you!

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