Today marks Earth Day.  I would like to share a few thoughts with you all – with the express purpose of asking you to share your own thoughts, and to share your stories.

Earth Day.

How can I celebrate the earth, be humbled in its glorious wonder, feel inspired by the ‘mother trees’, unless I also organize, collectively, against the systems and structures that tear the earth apart, that separate us from the land and from (other) animals, that never tire from treating communities as disposable?

Earth Day 1970 was inspired by the student anti-war movement in the 1960s, and designed with the explicit goal of organizing university teach-ins to raise the alarm about air and water pollution. Where are we today? The climate crisis is upon us, multiplying each current environmental and public health challenge. And US militarization has only grown – quite significantly – since 1970.  

Today, there is a growing student anti-war movement in the US, raising the alarm about mainstream support for a genocide, a genocide  that  has “ushered in a new phase in a long history of colonization and extraction that reaches back to the nineteenth century, “ and that is funded most prominently by our own Congressional officials and President. Just yesterday, the House awarded $26 billion in  “aid” to Israel.

How to rally against militarization, the war economy upon which it stands, and the capitalist philosophy that sustain it? How to organize against the multitudes of harms such a system causes?

Arundhati Roy spoke about ‘Confronting Empire’ in 2003, and I find inspiration, truth, and comfort in her words still today. Please allow me to share an excerpt from her speech  with you all.  She said:

As the disparity between the rich and the poor grows, the fight to corner resources is intensifying. To push through their “sweetheart deals,” to corporatize the crops we grow, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the dreams we dream, corporate globalization needs an international confederation of loyal, corrupt, authoritarian governments in poorer countries to push through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies.

Corporate Globalization – or shall we call it by its name? – Imperialism – needs a press that pretends to be free. It needs courts that pretend to dispense justice. Meanwhile, the countries of the North harden their borders and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. After all they have to make sure that it’s only money, goods, patents and services that are globalized. Not the free movement of people. Not a respect for human rights. Not international treaties on racial discrimination or chemical and nuclear weapons or greenhouse gas emissions or climate change, or – god forbid – justice. So this – all this – is “empire.” …So how do we resist “Empire”? …

What can we do? We can hone our memory, we can learn from our history. We can continue to build public opinion until it becomes a deafening roar. … We can re-invent civil disobedience in a million different ways. In other words, we can come up with a million ways of becoming a collective pain in the ass. … Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”


So, I ask you: What words do you go to for strength? What songs do you rely on to get you through a difficult time?  What writings come to your mind, that actually ‘produce a confident community of struggle’? What inspires you, gives you strength, and reminds you of the wonder of this sacred Earth?

Please share your stories — those brilliant, stubborn, artistic stories that speak of hope and resistance and love and humility.  

What is your wish for this Earth Day, and for every day? What is the world that you want to see coming?

– Rania Masri

NCEJN, Co Director