I am overwhelmed with emotion as I feel the climate march flowing through my body. Over 400,000 people flowing as a river to save the earth from the destruction of extractavism. The front of the march was embodied by people on the front lines of the struggle against climate change: Indigenous communities, people of color communities, people caught in the sacrifice zones of unregulated capitalism. The youth group at the very front had large Sunflower signs in their hands, Sunflowers can grow deep roots and suck up toxic heavy metals out of the soil. The youth were followed by indigenous communities who have powerfully held on to their worldview of nature as sacred and humanity meant to live in a reciprocal relationship with her. Indigenous women who can see extractavism as a continuation of colonialism, who fight against the sexual violence that comes from the man-camps set up near fracking sites. As Lakota elder Faith Spotted Eagle states “All are connected.”
I showed up at 10:00am on a side street where people of faith were gathering for an interfaith service before we marched. At first I was disappointed by the lack of people but by 11:00am we were completely packed in. Standing with my fellow brothers and sisters from the Order of Interbeing, surrounded by other Buddhists, we were standing behind the Jewish group and in front of the Universalist Unitarian Group. I raised up my camera like a periscope to take pictures of the sea of people in front and behind (see below). We were a huge crowd and we were just a small tributary that was to feed into the Ganges of the march. It felt like we were soldiers waiting in an assembly point before we were to go into battle. Like the Lord of the Rings when the Dwarves, Elves, Humans, and Hobbits march from Gondor to the Black Gate of Mordor to confront the Eye of Sauron, the ultimate Extractavist. As we prepared to march different faith leaders led us in chants and prayers. Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Earth Religions, Humanists. One was “We are marching in the light of God” from the South African anti-apartheid movement. I had to translate the message to a Buddhist one, “we are marching in the Buddha-Nature” and then it did fine. We waited for three hours to march. I kept reminding myself that the longer we had to wait, the more people there must be who came to march so it was good to wait.
From a ritual theory perspective the march was a powerful collective attunement and generation of a worldview that can see the sacredness of nature and our relationship to her. A powerful space that allows us to see and uproot the worldview of extractavism which holds that man is separate from the earth and here to dominate her. To replace that view with one that sees that life is not about free market continual growth and consumption of the earth. It is about relationship to the source, in touch with the regenerative power of the Earth, the regenerative power of Suchness, the source of true happiness that we find in our hearts and in the hearts of others. The march was a ritual to raise awareness about how we treat each other. The same logic that exploits the earth also exploits indigenous people, people of color, women, poor white people, lgbtq people, and disabled people. This exploitive worldview comes from a profound lack of connection to the Source. It comes from a profound alienation. The march was a ritual to reassert the indigenous, pre-patriarchal worldview that has survived. Like my Irish genetic ancestors who had burial sites that were seen wombs, not tombs. Like my Buddhist spiritual ancestors who realized that our true nature is the Ground of Being and that we inter-are with world around us.