By Kathy Kessler
I’ve often heard that protest marching may make people feel good, but it doesn’t really change anything. I also know that many in Congress who have come home from Washington in recent weeks to angry town hall meetings and phones ringing off the hook have been unable to hide the fact that their constituents are unhappy with what is going on in Washington. Whether they are Trump supporters who feel betrayed by empty promises or citizens like me, distraught over his administration’s stripping of environmental regulations that protect our air, water, and wildlife; limit our exposure to industrial chemicals; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for devastating climate effects; the public outcry is being heard, and lawmakers who hope to keep their own jobs in 2018 have no choice but to respond. I believe this kind of message matters. While there’s no quick or easy fix to the enormous problems at hand, we have everything to lose by not raising our voices to demand responsible stewardship and governance.
For me, one of the most troubling developments since the election has been the deliberate and cynical erosion of the truth. As hard as it is to watch the brazen reversal of hard-won protections that have been slowly and purposefully achieved during my lifetime (I marched in my small Connecticut hometown as a 13-year-old on the first Earth Day), and despite feeling a sense of helplessness as events have unfolded, it is important to remember that we are not without the means of speaking for the voiceless, joining together to express a sense of outrage, voicing our commitment to the economically and environmentally viable future that we want for our children, grandchildren, and the planet. Is silence an option when we already know how that story ends?
Silence in the face of growing human and environmental crises is particularly difficult for me to accept, given my Jewish heritage. To me, tikkun olam, healing the world with acts of kindness, means taking care of both people and the world we live in. It is the antidote to complacency. My call to march comes from the urgency of the times and from being part of a community that has always linked sanctity with justice. It is a call to protect the planet and to stand up for those among us who need support and who may not have a voice.
Voters’ voices—loud enough and in large enough numbers not to be ignored—remain our last and most powerful weapon, one that shouldn’t be underestimated and can’t easily be underrepresented. Of course each of us can and should support our state, municipal, and community efforts to promote clean, renewable energy, environmental justice, and civil rights. I know my voice can always be heard by calling my state and federal representatives and letting them know what is important to me. But the clamor of our unified voices when they’re brought to our lawmakers’ doorstep sends the last, loudest, and most direct message: that their job is to listen and respond to the demands of the People they serve, no matter what our faith, race, or orientation may be. By joining the People’s Climate March on April 29th, my voice, along with millions of others, will amplify that message on the national, world, and historical stage. I want to help make sure the truth is louder than fiction, that votes are counted by voices raised. So I am raising mine and hope you will join me in standing up for our human family and the planet that sustains us.