I knew I was going to chicken out. People were planning to infiltrate the public gallery at Parliament, to demand that the Government took Climate Change seriously.
I planned to find an excuse to leave it to the rabble rousing extraverts. So I offered to use the church car and fuel to get them there, as my contribution.
But on the long trip from Coffs Harbour to Canberra, it became clear that everyone in the car was as anxious as I was. The midwifery student, the bookshop owner, the builder. We were all introverts. How could I keep leaving it to others to take risks on my behalf?
Jason John (middle, pale shirt) stands with other nervous but committed everyday activists outside Parliament House last week.
So, a few days later, I found myself sitting in the gallery, waiting for my turn to stand up and shout, “When will you stop ‘praying for rain’ and act for God’s Earth and our children?”
Seconds later, very polite guards whisked me away to join my collaborators, and a frenzy of security, in the foyer. We are not allowed back for three months.
Why did I go through all the stress and anxiety, why resist all the childhood lessons to be polite and obedient, just to interrupt the farce which is Question Time for a few minutes?
One reason: anger. Anger that the coal dominated minerals council is the closest building to parliament house. Anger that their publicity material was inside parliament house, left over from the fancy dinner they held there the night before, but that t-shirts calling for Climate Action are banned within 50m of the building. Anger that our Government continues to sell our future, and especially the future of the poor, down the river.
Another reason: hope. Hope that repentance and conversion is possible. I converted to Christianity. Maybe our Christian leaders can convert to climate action. Maybe one phrase shouted from the balcony will be the tipping point for one of them. Maybe it will encourage the scientifically literate members of the Coalition to demand action. Maybe it will embolden the independents. Maybe it will push Labor for targets which are not just politically feasible, but scientifically necessary. Maybe someone will watch the spectacle on SBS and decide to take action too.
If you’re making a noise – in rallies, letters, phone calls, family conversations, school strikes – we thank you!
If you know action is needed, but making noise doesn’t sit well with you, you are in excellent company. None of us wanted to be there. None of us wanted to speak out. We just had to.
We all have to.
In the lead up to the elections, a number of contributors to Common Grace will be sharing different ways in which they are making noise. They will be inviting us to join them, if we haven’t already, in the fight for our future.
In this election year, in this final decade we have to take massive action. More than ever, we need to show our beliefs through our works.
For God’s Earth and all who dwell within.
Jason John is a Common Grace volunteer on our Climate Justice team and works with the Uniting Church on environmental advocacy. Image credit: Courier Sun.