By. Elizabeth May
As we all prepare for the holidays, it is customary to look back at the year that was. I am not able to do that (even though that’s what the newsletter editor wanted.) I cannot pretend the events of the last two weeks – first Canada’s sabotage at COP17 in Durban and then the breath-taking duplicity of filing notice to legally withdraw from Kyoto scarcely 24 hours after the close of the COP – belong in another part of my brain. The enormity of it demands that I not write about how great it is that I was elected and that we made a breakthrough. (For the moment, I assume that you know that and that you know how grateful I am for your support in making it happen).
This Christmas season I find myself thinking about Christmas of 1972. It was our last Christmas before moving to Cape Breton. I remember trying to sing Christmas carols in our church, standing with my mum, and both of us choking on tears and unable to sing. It was the year Nixon ordered the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam. Carpet bombing from December 18-30th. The theory was the godless North Vietnamese would not expect bombing from a Christian nation on Christmas. The element of surprise.
What triggered the recollection was nothing cerebral. I tried to sing and the physical sensation opened the portal of memory. The way the smell of rain on warm soil of a summer evening is evocative, I was transported back to that church, standing next to my mother and choking on tears. Once again I have a Christmas when I cannot sing. This time it is Stephen Harper’s surprise strategy. Wait til Canada’s negotiators are back from Durban, wait til Canadians are distracted by Christmas and then bomb the bridges to global climate action.
The climate crisis is not a war and the brutality is at a distance. But brutality it is.
Can we be Conscientious Objectors to the war on our children’s future? As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in a poem of that name, “I shall die, but that is all I shall do for Death. I am not on his payroll.” We need to resolve – heart, body and soul – to reverse over the next year the damage done in these last few weeks. We need to be grounded in the ways and strengths of every hero we can name – Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama – and yes, for me, the Prince of Peace whose birthday we celebrate.
We will not allow climate deniers and duplicitous politicians, oil lobbyists and fossil-fuel funded front groups to prevent action in the tiny bit of time remaining.
We have accomplished much in 2011. We must collectively accomplish more in 2012.