faith in action

Turning garbage into hope

The church is called to shift toward repair by protecting the peoples and communities most vulnerable to climate change.

Some years ago, I discovered an inspiring YouTube piece called Landfill Harmonica Amazing and Inspirational.

The 11-minute video is the story of an economically poor community in Paraguay living on the edges of a landfill. The director of Landfill Harmonica inspires this group of young students to play music and turn trash into instruments of hope.

Today we are often motivated by fear more than by hope. Millions of young and older people from around the world are calling for immediate action on climate change. As people of faith, we must be mindful of our participation in creating the situation. We are also aware of the power of our voice in calling for change.

The climate change crisis touches every corner of the globe and impacts every aspect of our lives. Sub-Saharan Africa countries of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and others are at the top of the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change. Warming temperatures and rising seas produce hurricanes that destroy communities, necessitating the migration of people from the Philippines and the Caribbean. Poverty, health care and education are worsened by the realities of destructive climate change. Time and time again the lives of people of coastal towns and cities in Florida, South and North Carolina, New Jersey and the Gulf coast are jeopardized or destroyed.

In his new book, “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” Bill McKibben, a lifelong Christian, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, and grassroots activist describes the traumatic effects of climate change on the oceans, the atmosphere and nature. But in the end, he circles back to humankind. Neither Pollyanna nor a fatalist, in a hopeful voice he writes:

There’s a time and a place for growth, and a time and place for maturity, for balance and for scale. Our goals need to fundamentally shift: toward repair, toward security, toward protection. If we don’t screw up the game of being human, it could last for a long time; compared to other species, we’re still early in our career.”

The church is called to shift toward repair by protecting the peoples and communities most vulnerable to climate change. Advocacy for policies that secure and transform the planet and the peoples of the world is our Christian mandate.

As Luis Szaran, the director of the Landfill Harmonica, beautifully inspires repair and hope on the edge of a landfill, the church is called to inspire, repair, and advocate for a hurting planet.

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