Monday, April 22, 2019

On Earthday, 2019, A Dream

This sermonette describing a dream of sustainability was delivered towards the end of our Climate Cabaret show at Fahs Theater in Princeton back on January 18, hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton. The performance was on the weekend before MLK Day, and takes inspiration from Martin Luther King's dream. The text is below, but the video can be found at minute 1:19:40 at this link.

A DREAM OF SUSTAINABILITY

Now, briefly, a dream. We should spend more time dreaming, and this is mine.

We celebrate this weekend the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr, and so it is appropriate to articulate a dream. It's always easy to criticize, and, as we've seen tonight, kind of fun. It's harder to dream, because if you express a dream, others will immediately start looking for the flaws in any positive action you suggest taking. They'll say, Oh, we shouldn't do that. We should do this!" But in fact, we have to do it all, and do it now. And implicit in that action is a belief in ourselves and our collective power to do intentional good, rather than the unintentional harm that is built into our daily lives.

In his speech in 1963, King spoke of "the great vaults of opportunity", "the fierce urgency of now." He warned against "the tranquilizing drug of gradualism." He said that blacks were living "on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity," and that "Now is the time to rise ... to the sunlit path."

We live in a time of seeming abundance. But in terms of ethical energy, we too live on a lonely island of poverty, while our world is awash in a vast ocean of solar energy streaming down upon us from the sun. Heeding "the fierce urgency of now" requires that we demand that our culture change, that it work not against our future, but instead help us to liberate ourselves, collectively, from our role as dystopia's lackeys. Imagine harvesting as much energy as we consume. Imagine powering our mobility and comfort while leaving no chemical trace on the planet, but instead merely switching electrons back and forth, like in a digital camera that can collect an endless stream of memories without changing the world around it.

To take action now, not knowing quite how we'll pull it off, is to believe in ourselves, to tap into that great well of resourcefulness and invention within us and our culture, to believe once again in the future.

I will end this sermonette with my favorite words from the song we're about to sing (based on the melody of John Denver's "Country Roads"):

All my travels now are haunted--

Trails of carbon rising up behind me.

All I want is some clean energy

Captured from the sunlight

In my batteries.

There's a road we can take

To the place we belong.

West Virginia, keep your mountains. Let the sun take us home. 


-- S. Hiltner

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