“We the youth will be affected by climate change more than the negotiators in this room,” stated the representative of the youth delegation at the UN Forum on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa. The youth challenged the government negotiators to stop talking and start implementing past promises. Our youth do not take lightly gambling with their future.
Prior to that the Fiji government delegation, also representing the smaller island states, implored the UN Forum for quicker action. “We are already experiencing the impact of climate change in rising sea levels,” the Fiji representative explained.
These reports were echoed by others. Somalia reported that 20,000 children have died and 730,000 children are malnourished. Thailand reported that they have lost 2/3 of their rice crop this year. Then with a steady resolve stated; “These talks are about drought today not just the warming of the earth in the future.”
These are sobering and disturbing reports. They make you want to retreat. But ignorance is no longer possible and apathy is no longer permissible. Islanders watching their homes disappear and youth seeing their leaders vanish are pleading for help. Like the traveller beaten and left at the side of the road, they are looking for their Good Samaritan.
I do not believe that the Church wants to pass them by. I do not think that the Church wants to wish them well while allowing their plight to remain unaltered. We are the Church. Responding comes naturally, extending compassion is characteristic.
In these discussions the voices most affected are those necessitating the most solidarity. This is our forte as the Church. The God who notices every fallen sparrow compels us to notice every dying plead for action.
"We extend our sympathies," responded the Chair of the UN Forum as the reports were presented. But sympathies unless accompained by actions of solidarity are insufficient for the Church. Ours is the call to impact the environment of danger, bathe the wounds, and assure the return to good health.
As the Church, our calling is simple. We hear, because we have been heard.