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The Reinvigoration Generation Finds Religion

12/19/09

Reflections on the activist Vigil held Thursday reveal a new side of environmentalists’ campaign.  Now, as a deal seems to have been reached, will it satisfy the demands of clergy and follower alike?

The candles aglow and complemented by the natural darkness of Copenhagen provided a somber background for an uplifting vigil last Thursday night at Klimaforum.  At times touching and heartfelt, speakers ranged from the inspired to the somewhat sappy.  Two fasters forty-two days famished, NGO leaders including 350.org founder Bill Mckibben, and several amateur activist songwriters were among those who addressed the audience.  They spoke of universal commitment and the need for “The Real Deal”, their euphemism for an agreement that expands the world’s perspective and alters the actions of those who negatively impact the climate.

“President Obama’s name on a piece of paper won’t save us, “ Deepa Gupta, emcee for the evening, said as the event concluded with a rallying call in the form of reflective silence.  The audience was asked to take out a pen and write of the vision they have for the world in 2050.  Words on a page, a “simple thing” she reasoned, is the sort of offering this generation must supplement with action.   As the leaders spoke and the singers sang, the speakers offered a status quo condemnation laced with the timid optimism of a minority movement entering the global spotlight.  McKibben, a twenty-year veteran of the environmental movement offered an encouraging balance point to the audience of Bella Center refugees.  Most were members of NGO’s who had been kicked out of the main arena just as the prime event was taking place.

He told them of how he had been in Kyoto for the first major global protocol some twelve years ago and how then, in stark contrast to today’s movement, there was little to no civil society present, not to mention virtually no youth involvement.

The vigil continued with other speakers and included an opening song from a member of a native tribe in Canada.  He offered prayerful intensity as he performed his song of restrained optimism. A quasi-religious ceremony, a devout congregation, and faithful servant leaders are the hallmarks of the new environmental movement.  The only question that remains is whether their actions will stir change in their delegates, and whether their delegates will choose to answer their prayers.

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