Keynote Speech given by Deacon Arthur Miller
IREJN Earthkeeper Luncheon
Friday, May 26, 2017
This afternoon we have gathered because sometimes it is necessary to be with folks who embrace the same truths that we hold dear; people we may not know but are comfortable with, because they too accept the notion that our planet….as Pope Francis has called “Our Common Home” is in dire straits…. This afternoon we have peacefully gathered together because it is now necessary to huddle with folks who embrace the sacred truths that we hold dear and defend the truth that too many have denied.
This afternoon, we have joined together with one voice, one mind, one common goal and that sacred goal is to protect our planet, to protect this most precious and Holy creation we call our common home. Because if we don’t It will most assuredly perish.
This day will be dedicated to informing you, enlightening you, lifting you up so you might be better equipped to speak up when necessary, to act up when necessary, to stand up when necessary…. My friends just so you know, this afternoon, this day, this moment, this gathering is necessary.
We cannot, we must not ever stand idly by, while a pervasive and profound assault on our common home continues to saunter about under the guise of false truths uttered by an unknowing, uncaring political leaders. Whose desire for political and economic power has jaundiced their sensibilities.
Today, it is vital that every good and heroic person stand with us against the degradation and squandering of the natural resources that make our planet precious. We must continue to voice the undesirable and uncomfortable truth, that greed, indifference and ignorance are destroying our common home and God’s first creation.
Today, your very presence speaks to your accepted invitation to the rescue of mother earth, our common home. And it will take your personal commitment because there is much work to be done, forthere are many minds to be changed, uncaring attitudes to be rectified, and destructive actions to that must be addressed.
Donald Trump’s administration’s new Office of Management and Budget proposal would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 24% and reduce its staffing by 20%. Some of the EPA’s most longstanding and best-known programs are facing potential elimination — including initiatives aimed at improving water and air quality as well as a number of regulations tasked with reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Other programs include the Environmental Justice program, which is meant to help local communities grapple with environmental concerns, and Global Change Research, a program funded by several agencies, including the EPA, which reports humans’ impact on the planet.
The Clean Power Plan, which could also be recommended for cuts, was an initiative by former President Barack Obama meant to reduce carbon emissions from each state. Fourteen separate EPA partnership programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could also be on the chopping block.
Also among the programs up for elimination are multi-purpose grants to states and tribes, Energy Star grants, Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowships, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and initiatives aimed at environmental protections along the US-Mexico border.
Some of the grants recommended for elimination could be matching grants for local projects around the country. Ken Cook, the head of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy and research organization, told CNN in a statement: “The Trump administration has decided fence-line communities across the country, whose residents already bear an outsized burden from pollution, are on their own to take on big polluters.”
He also argued that zeroing out the Environmental Justice program, which focuses on fair protection from environmental and health hazards for people of all races and incomes, has racial motivations. “To cut the Environmental Justice program at EPA is just racist,” he said. “I can’t imagine it’s an office that runs up much cost. I can’t describe it in any other terms than a move to leave those communities behind. I can’t imagine what the justification would be, other than racism.”
Yes, there is much work to be done. Many people who are now in power continue to believe that climate change is a hoax, they believe that the warming of our planet, the disintegration of the polar ice cap, they believe that the dramatic swings in weather patterns is a normal cycle that our planet is going through and has gone through for millions of years…And yet…95 percent of every notable scientist including 17 Nobel Laureates, report that climate change is real and that human activity has played a significant role in these unnatural climate changing patterns.
Frankly I don’t know who those 5 percent of scientist are but boy they sure can influence those who steadfastly believe that climate change is not real. I wish those 5% could influence those same politicians who believe there is no racism, I wish those 5% could influence those hard liners that Black Lives do Matter, I wish those 5% could influence people to go back to church or to their temple or to their mosques, I wish those 5% could influence the richest of the rich to pay fare wages to those they employ… I wish that 5% could convince Trump to quit…
It is important for you to remember this day…for some of you this is the first time you have ever been involved. Involved in standing against ignorance and denial that is destroying our planet. Remember this day, for today you are joining that great company of witnesses who walked, and marched and sat in so that we could become what America professes itself to be. Look around you and remember, you are now a part of that great company of witnesses who came before your time, whom God raised up to raise us up, from our bondage to the things that are, to the liberty of the things that can and ought to be.
Remember this day as I remember the savagery of the struggle for human and civil rights, as I remember the determination and bravery to achieve hard-won concessions for social justice, and now we struggle for an even greater challenge, the challenge to preserve our very planet. To preserve our common home so that our children and grandchildren and those who follow might be able to walk through verdant fields, breath sweet clean air and know that what God created we did not destroy.
Remember this day and realize there are those who are blind to the truth that is blindingly obvious to us. That we have becoming a society that sweeps into the corner any difficult truth that threatens to shake us out of our apathy. For so many good people just standby, refusing to accept what screams so very loudly, “Our Planet is sick. Our very planet is sick and we are the ones who are poisoning her”
Edmund Burke the noted philosopher noted: That in order for evil to prevail all it takes is for good people to do nothing.
We as inhabitants of this beautiful planet, must look truthfully at what is happening and not worry so much about who is right but about what is right. So now that you are informed it’s time to be transformed. To be Transformed requires that there be a change in you…which cause you to now act
Some of you might be asking, What can I do? ……so that the world will take notice and accept the truth of our duplicity in the terrifying changes to our climate. What can I do?….. so that biblical floods and ravaging winds awaken the minds of those who are afraid of the truth? What can I do?…. So all humankind takes notice that global droughts and rising seas are destroying the lives of millions of people, animals and plants?
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, there is much that you can do, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” What can you Do? Take a stronger stand today and speak truth to power..because “no lie can live forever.”
What can you do? Act now, act through Snapchat and Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin…voicing your concerns and outrage at the duplicity of our leaders and our neighbors…
What can you do? Join this organization and others so that their voice is more powerful…then go out and recruit others…
What can you do? Love your planet and our common home. This is the question humankind has to face when it’s moral truths confront its amoral reality.
These questions of justice wronged and righteousness denied must be taken up again today. For their veracity can no longer be ignored. I believe with all my heart that were there an 11th commandment it would read:
“Thou shalt not be a bystander”
After reflecting on my own moments of tragic silence, I have come to realize for me,…It is the height of arrogance to lament the fact that my solitary voice might not be heard (and to do nothing because of it). I have come to accept that, why is it necessary for me to want my voice to be heard above the sea of others? All I have to know is that I have done my small part, and that in doing that small part, I’ve done the best I can do. And that has got to be enough.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings complete wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, trusting that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capability. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. Even though it may be incomplete, it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.We may never see the end results, but that alright for that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
Ultimately what I want for my grandchildren is to give them a world I helped to mend, the guidance and strength to fix the things I was unable to and most of all, the courage to repair the things I broke.