How do we survive?
As the final hours of COP21 unfolded in December 2015, I witnessed my youth delegation – the single most talented, passionate group of people I have ever met – deteriorate to the point of implosion. As youth, we struggled to find ways to hold the US government accountable for the Paris Agreement – an incomplete, non-binding, wholly insufficient text.
Tensions rose as we took out our sense of helplessness on each other. I still remember my despair in that moment, feeling trapped in that hostel. I remember how the dimmed hallways reeked from our three sleepless weeks there.
Of all living generations, mine is the one upon which climate change will inflict the most suffering. We as young people do not have the luxury of quiescence. And so, I picked my heart up off the floor, held it red and beating in my hands. Finding hope became a responsibility to my future children, even though I did not know how or where to find it. It became even harder on November 8.
How do we find hope under a Trump administration? Breathing communities.
Community is the bedrock with every sunrise. Community holds us steady as we face destructive policies that grow exponentially by the day.
Community anchors us in the greater vision of the world we are building. When our communities are rooted in relationships to each other, rooted in justice, and rooted in trust, we can sustain a social movement for the long haul. Being able to rely on each other is tantamount to our survival.
I think of communities in the same way I think about Impressionist art: these paintings seemingly consist of no more than individual, short strokes. Yet, when put together, they create beauty. A movement can stop a wave, if it contains people who are bound to each other.
What is community?
It is 2,000 people in New Haven, Connecticut who show up on a cold winter night to remind the refugees in this city that they are warmly welcomed and loved here.