Budapest climate march

Climate March Budapest, 29th November: activists drop leaves into the Danube, as a message to the Hungarian COP21 delegation. “Participants in the Budapest action want to make sure that those gathered in Paris reject the violence that tears people and communities apart, and instead come together with trust in the future and in a spirit of cooperation to protect the environment.” said organiser Bence Gosztonyi. Photo by Dániel Alföldi.

There is a chapter in Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything that is poignantly entitled ‘Love Will Save this Place’. It speaks about how good people who are wrenched from their families and birthplaces are used as workers by the fossil fuel industry to extract ever higher profits from the earth. In this way, they (we) become little more than tools in the hands of capitalism, since:

‘this kind of dissasociation is part of what makes it possible for decent people to inflict the scale of damage to the land that extreme energy demands.’

Scotland Climate March

Scotland’s Climate March, Saturday 28 November 2015 in Edinburgh. www.stopclimatechaos.org/scottish-climate-march. Photo by Ric Lander.

To reverse that damage, we fight to retain and deepen those connections with each other, with the places where we live and work, with our fellow activists. This weekend, thousands of people fought hard to retain that sense of togetherness, to preserve it in the face of the ultimate separation brought on by terrorism, to express it  with hopeful messages, to bring it home to the politicians sitting in the COP21 summit meetings, who are so often seen as separate from the people they represent.

London Green Block

Green Block at the London Climate March, 29th November 2015. Photo by Caroline Baird.

For seasoned activists, too, that was what the marches of the past few days represented: a chance to get away for a while from our handheld devices and see each other in person, to hear each other’s voices echoing strongly, listen to each other in a deep and meaningful way, to reflect on the wisdom that each each other brings to the struggle, to send messages to each other in the knowledge that we are both making headway but also have a lot more to learn, especially around the issue of racism and climate change.

If there is anything we can take away from the gatherings of the past few days and their disruption by recent world events, it is that the struggle against disconnection is continuous. To equip us for the struggle, we need to take the time to grieve: for the natural beauty that is on our doorstep and is diminishing day by day; for the relationships that we have lost to violence or to chance; for the many setbacks in the movement that we are all part of, for social justice and a livable planet.

But we also need to get up and out there every single day and fight this insidious separation that is dogging all our steps, by getting together, and getting organised. And if the many photos of the past few days are anything to go by, then we do this pretty well.

Scotland Climate

Scotland’s Climate March, Saturday 28 November 2015 in Edinburgh. Photo by Ric Lander.