What a weekend! I still haven’t explained what happened on Sunday. It’s hard to put into words, but I’ll do my best.
Out of all three days of the conference, Sunday was the one with the least problems. Saturday was the most stressful and probably the most exciting because we got attacked with teargas and had to struggle just to keep the conference going. It was hard, and some people were driven away by fear and injuries, but there was also a sense of triumph because we didn’t let the denialists shut us down. On Sunday, there wasn’t quite the same adrenaline rush, but it may have been the most satisfying. There were still some problems, but we knew it was nothing we couldn’t handle. We just went ahead with our schedule and had a strong finish.
The morning started early with a few different Sunday worship services, including Sunday mass for Catholics. The theme, of course, was global warming and social justice. I should have mentioned last time that on Friday and Saturday, there were other services for people of other religions and beliefs, including one for the atheists and agnostics. But I got so caught up in the chaos on Saturday that I didn’t say much about the full schedule of events. Anyway, after all of the worship services, there was also a big interfaith service lead by the Carbondale Interfaith Council where people of all religions and beliefs came together to express their shared moral concern about the climate crisis and hope for the future. Each person spoke or sang or prayed for just a couple of minutes because there were so many people to get through. I had never even heard of some of those religions before, so I may need to educate myself.
I usually only go to mass on Christmas and Easter and whenever I’m visiting relatives. I know, I should go more, but I get busy. You know how it is. Anyway, it was exciting to go and hear about the importance of taking action on global warming. I usually think of church and my green work as separate. But the Pope is all in favor of taking action on global warming, so it all makes sense. It was good to hear about it from that perspective.
The CMC and other anti-green protesters didn’t try to disrupt the Sunday services. I don’t know if it’s because they tend to be very religious, or they didn’t want to be perceived as anti-religion, or some other reason. Who knows. But they kept their distance. As soon as the religious time was over, though, they stepped up their game again, with all of the unarmed troops shifting from their spot on the edge of campus to ongoing marches around the buildings where we met. It was sometimes noisy and obnoxious, but there were no more serious attacks.
So we just had to finish the conference. There were a few smaller workshops left to do, but the two biggest tasks for the final day of the conference were the local declaration and the global virtual march and rally.
Each of the local GCOM events was asked to come up with a declaration about the Resilience Program and the Resistance Program. Some of us in Miami Diaspora came up with a sample declaration before the conference, but it was a little rough because we only had a couple of weeks to work on it. Also, each city needed to customize it a little to fit their circumstances. So by Sunday afternoon, we had worked together to come up with a local declaration to send to the media, the local city council, the state assembly of Illinois, and the federal government. To make a long story short, it said that we the people have declared that our governments and industries must take real action on these issues. If they don’t, we’ll do as much as we can on our own and use protests and elections to force governments and industries take action.
At the very end, it was time for the global telepresence march and rally. Each local event had a few aerial video drones so that all of us could be combined digitally into a single huge march and rally. Our local event had about a thousand people if you count the ones who just came for the rally. People are still debating the exact global turnout, but the lowest serious estimates say that it was twelve million people in over five hundred cities. Some say it was even more. It was definitely the biggest global climate march in history, especially if you count all the little actions of people who couldn’t travel to the GCOM events.
The global video looked strange due to the fact that each event had different lighting, different size crowds, different architecture, and so on. But that’s part of what’s so interesting about it. They blended it all together as well as they could to make it look like a single global march. Millions of people from all around the world were marching together as one, calling on government and industry to take serious and immediate action on global warming. While we were marching, I didn’t even bother watching most of it online because I was right there in the middle of it. But when I watched the whole thing online later, it was beautiful. You could zoom in on different parts of the march and watch people marching through cities from around the world. I don’t know much about architecture, but it seems like every type was represented somewhere — skyscrapers, suburban sprawl, farm houses, beaches, hospitals, art museums, cathedrals, mosques, even some ancient monuments like Stonehenge and the Pyramid of the Sun. And people were wearing everything you can imagine, from people in the tropics running around nearly naked to people in the far north walking around in big puffy coats and fuzzy hats. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was amazing.
So that was the last big event of the Global Conference On Miami. I can’t speak for people in other places because some of them had it worse than we did — violent anti-green protesters, government crackdowns, and so on. But as far as I’m concerned, it was definitely worth all the trouble. It definitely made almost everyone I’ve talked to feel about ten times more motivated and ten times more clear on what we should do next. It also demonstrated just how many of us want to do something about global warming that will solve the problem once and for all. Now all that’s left is to go back into our everyday lives with this knowledge and this motivation so that we can do the hard work that lies ahead of us.