Elders of the Earth is a membership network of adults who are concerned about the world we are leaving to the next generation. It was set up to allow people to join together to make their voices heard on environmental issues and climate change.
Eileen Lynch and Frank Dorr who are founding members of Elders of the Earth, visited with our Sisters in Ardfoyle, Cork this morning to address them on the increasing concerns around climate change and environmental destruction and tell them a little more about their mandate.
The key question asked by Elders of the Earth is “What did you do to stop the chaos and the destruction of life?”
Frank and Eileen spoke very eloquently on the climate catastrophe facing the planet, and how in their retirement they felt called to do something.
This poem by Rabindranath Tagore spoke to them, lending credence to this calling.
I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my power,
that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted
and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.
But I found that thy will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.
Giving up all thought of retirement, they made the decision to answer the call, which aligned with Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’.
They looked at three areas in which they could make a difference, personal behaviour, education, advocacy.
Despite feeling uncomfortable speaking out publically and engaging with politicians, Frank and Eileen helped set up Cork Climate Action, a coalition of organisations whose aim is to increase the momentum towards tackling climate change. They marched the streets with placards and wrote and phoned politicians, even calling to their offices.
When Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist called on older people to support young people in their Fridays for Future climate strike, they responded by setting up Elders for Earth.
The Elders for Earth Manifesto reads:
ELDERS FOR EARTH is a network of people, among them grandparents, grandaunts and granduncles, aunts and uncles, and many others, who are committed to action to protect the earth. We love our children and grandchildren, our grandnieces and grandnephews and only want what’s best for them. We are grateful for the beauty and wonder of the world we inherited, and we would like to pass on that beauty and wonder to them. But we have woken up to the fact that, instead of that, our way of life is leaving them an impoverished world, and maybe even an unliveable one.
We see that while the poor people are affected worst and soonest, all our children and grandchildren will soon be living in a world of extreme weather events, of storms and floods and droughts, of rising sea-levels flooding coastal cities, of climate chaos causing food shortages, of vast numbers of climate refugees on the move around the world. It will be a world in which many of the animals and insects they loved to read about, lions and tigers and whales and bees and butterflies and many others, will be gone forever. Even worse, it will be a world in which so many life-forms go extinct that there may be a breakdown of the whole web of life of which we are a part and on which we depend.
We recognise that a main source of the problem is the consumerist way of life we take for granted, with its constant pressure to buy more, consume more, and dump more, so that everything will be more conventient and comfortable and enjoyable. But now we know that our over-consumption is damaging and destroying the world we will and on, so that we are, in a real sense, stealing from our children.
We are resolved to do all we can to change things before it is too late. We accept that this will require change in our own lives. But we also know that change is needed in the structures of society and the economy, and that politicians who represent us must act to change those structures and the laws and rules we live by, so that they are no longer encouraging unlimited and unsustainable consumption, and so that responsible choices become the easier choices.
We join together in a network of ELDERS FOR EARTH, to add our voices to those calling for a radical change of direction. If our children and grandchildren ask us, “What did you do to stop the chaos and the destruction of life?” we want to be able to look them in the eye and say, “We did the very best we could!”
We commit ourselves to:
- Cultivating our appreciation and gratitude and love for the wonder and beauty of our universe;
- Opening our minds and hearts to the catastrophes facing our planet, its people, and the whole web of life;
- Letting this knowledge affect the way we live, so we are less caught in the trap of consumerism;
- Promoting awareness of these issues among our families, our friends, our colleagues, and our communities, so that the unspeakable future we are sliding into becomes speakable, and our society can work together to change direction;
- Supporting movements and groups working for a just and liveable world, for sustainable and humanly fulfilling communities, and for the protection of the web of life;
- Lobbying and educating our politicians on these issues, acknowledging positive steps taken, and encouraging and persuading them to take the further difficult steps that might halt and reverse the slide into destruction;
- Supporting each other in our efforts to act effectively on these commitments.
Lobying and educating our politicians is a crucial part of what the Elders hope to do.