“Funeral for our Future”
Rev. Peter Sawtell 4/5/13 — Sen. Bennet’s office
Dearly beloved, we are here to mourn the untimely demise of our future. We’re here to lift up our grief, our anger, at what has been taken from us.
We had hoped, we had assumed, we had known that our future would be present beyond us in beauty and in joy. That is what people have always known about the future, a promise of goodness and possibility for the years ahead — for us, for our children and grandchildren, for all generations, for all creation.
But our future has been cut off, struck down, taken from us by the fact of climate change. This is not the way it should be. This is not good and right. This is not inevitable or natural.
The brutal slaying of our future is a cold and calculated act of violence, of selfishness and greed. Our future has been struck down by those who value profit more than justice, who seek comfort more than compassion, who live so blindly in this moment that they cannot discern the evil of their acts for all ages to come.
Yes, we’re complicit in the death of our future, to some extent. We’re all part of the systems that have brought her to such an untimely end. But we are not all equally complicit.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, on these steps, in front of this office, because our senator knowingly and willingly took part in the slaying of our future. Senator Bennet has tried to deflect and deny his involvement, but two weeks ago today, he voted for a resolution that pushed our future into the grave — a resolution that affirmed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Last week, his staff tried to tell us that it was just “a non-binding resolution”, a question about some “budget impacts.” Well, Senator Bennet is not a fool, and neither are we. He made a choice, a conscious choice, and it was the wrong one.
He voted to say that some short term — very short term — revenue from filthy, climate destroying tar sands is more important than our beloved future. His vote will help unleash the climate bomb of tar sands gunk that takes away our future, and sends us into a world that is forever devastated and destabilized.
We are here in anger, because this was a conscious act. Mr. Bennet is not stupid. He is not a mindless climate denier. He knows full well what is happening and he knows what is at stake.
Last Tuesday — just three days ago — Senator Bennet was in Fort Collins, at the site of yet another major, frightening, damaging forest fire. A fire that, in mid-March, in winter, burned 1,300 acres and threatened hundreds of homes.
Senator Bennet said that day — and I quote — “This is a reminder that fire season is coming to Colorado earlier and earlier.” He didn’t say it, because he didn’t have to: fire season is coming earlier and earlier because of climate change, because we insist on extracting and burning the fossil fuels that are warping our weather, drying the forests, melting the ice, making the oceans too acidic to nurture life, and pushing the extinction of countless species.
The carbon-intense tar sands, the stuff that Mr. Bennet thinks would be good to pipe across the US, will accelerate that global heating. The tar sands will kill our future.
Senator Bennet knows what is happening to this planet. He knows full well what is at stake for us, our children, for the whole web of life. And yet he voted two weeks ago to kill our future, to choose the way of death and devastation, the way of profit and convenience, instead of the way of life.
We are here today, in front of Senator Bennet’s office, because we hold him accountable for the death of our future. We grieve, we are angry, and we will not forget.
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But — it isn’t over yet. Have you seen the Monty Python movie “Holy Grail”, with the old guy who sits up and says, “I’m not dead yet”? Well, neither is our future.
Our future has been dealt a terrible, viscous blow, but she’s not dead yet. So we’re not here for that kind of mourning, the kind that seeks emotional closure and acceptance. We’re not here to cry, and then move on. That’s what they want us to do — to give up.
No, we are here to fight for life, to fight for our future, to pull our future back from the brink, to restore the promise of life, hope and possibility in a just and sustainable world.
We are here to mourn — to mourn the evils of our carbon-addicted society, and particularly to mourn the Senate vote two weeks ago. We mourn and cry out against the vote for business as usual, and an even more rapid turn toward climate chaos.
We are here to mourn. But we are also here to stand in hope. Our future has been severely hurt, profoundly damaged, but she is not dead.
We are here to stand with and for our future — the hopeful future of our descendants and our planet.
There is a beautiful and profound song by Holly Near. It speaks about why we have gathered here today: “We are a gentle angry people, and we are singing, singing for our lives.”
Dearly beloved, we are here to mourn the untimely devastation of our future — but she’s not dead yet, and we will fight for our future. We are here on behalf of our children, on behalf of all creation, to fight for our future. We are singing, we are fighting, for our lives.