Should we talk about climate change with so much else happening?
My name is Evan Sadlon, and this Fall I will start my senior year at UW-Madison. I joined the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin this summer to primarily focus on climate change. The mission, “Care for God’s Creation,” stands out to me as instrumental in not only protecting and sustaining the environment, but human society as well.
Yet at this moment, I find it nearly impossible to even begin thinking about and discussing climate change. The image of George Floyd’s cruel murder at the hands and knees of a Minneapolis police officer haunts our minds—and rightfully so. It represents 400 years of diminishing black lives in the United States. Too many of us Americans have ignored the systemic racism ever prevalent in modern society and allowed generations to suffer from discrimination and oppression. I sit here wondering, what could possibly be done to fix all this pain and suffering? How could I even start to think about the environment right now? And, probably most of all, where is God’s presence?
It seems more questions and uncertainties exist than solutions. I certainly don’t have all answers. However, I do know one thing, a simple phrase that God and Jesus repeat often: Do not be afraid.
The Gospel for this next Sunday comes from Matthew, chapters nine and ten. It describes Jesus going into cities and villages, teaching in synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, curing every disease and every sickness. Crowds of people flocked to Jesus, craving even just a glimpse of him. Jesus, full of compassion, recognizes that these people are vulnerable; they are sheep without a shepherd. He turns to his disciples, and effectively says, there are plenty of hearts here, waiting to be filled. They just need some guidance. Jesus then gives his twelve disciples authority over unclean spirits, and the ability to cure every disease and every sickness.
You and I represent modern day disciples. Jesus has tasked us with guiding the spirits of others, curing the diseases and sicknesses of racism that plague humanity. By using the love and compassion of Jesus Christ, we can begin to answer some of our questions, conquer our fears, and bring hope for a better tomorrow. Just initiating a conversation with someone about the injustices in society can produce the slightest amount of change. Jesus has called us to love our neighbors, to end pain and suffering in our communities. Even when all hope seems lost and we are scared to move forward, we must realize that God always remains by our side. He has given each one of us the power and the means to make this world a bit brighter.
Now, is it right to think about the environment? What about LOPPW’s other missions concerning COVID-19, world hunger and anti-human trafficking? I firmly believe that the wheels of change always remain in motion. They demand action. As disciples, we must advocate for what we believe in, being shepherds for those around us. We must go out into this world and demand racial justice and justice for all aspects of life. It is our duty, not just as followers of Christ, but as human beings, to make society better and stronger than the day before. Now is the time for action. With Jesus as our shepherd, we cannot fail.