Sustaining All Life/United to End Racism Events Earth Day 2021
The Emotional Burdens of Oppression and the Climate Crisis
We humans came to this earth expecting a good world characterized by fairness, justice, and equity. Instead, we found a world filled with relationships of domination and subordination where our social identities were used to determine our access to the resources we needed to live fulfilling lives and where the earth and her resources were treated as a commodity to be exploited for other’s benefit and profit.
Living with these realities—both the experiences of domination and subordination resulting from oppression, and the existential threat resulting from environmental degradation and the climate crisis—has left us with emotional burdens.
Unhealed emotional burdens interrupt our ability to develop and hold a vision and perspective that enables us to create effective solutions to the climate crisis. They interfere with our ability to develop the relationships that are needed to interrupt oppression and to take effective action in the world to appropriately address the climate crisis.
In this workshop, we create space and share a process for healing climate grief and releasing the emotional burdens that we carry as a result of oppression and the damage to the planet. As we do this work, it will free our courage, unleash our energy, and give us space to do the work that we want to do together to stop this climate emergency.
The Work of SAL and UER
It is possible to limit the effects of human-caused climate change and restore the environment—and some big changes are needed if this is to happen. Sustaining All Life (SAL) and United to End Racism (UER) believe the environmental crisis cannot be resolved without ending racism, genocide of Indigenous peoples, classism, sexism, and other oppressions. The impact of environmental destruction and climate change falls most heavily on the groups targeted by these oppressions, and on other vulnerable populations (including populations of people who are elderly, disabled and very young).
To build a movement powerful enough to resolve the climate crisis, SAL and UER believe that the following barriers must be overcome: (1) longstanding divisions between nations and between groups of people caused by oppression (especially by racism, genocide of Indigenous people, and classism), (2) wide-spread feelings of discouragement and powerlessness, (3) a too-slow response to the escalating damage to the earth’s climate, (4) difficulties in effectively addressing the connections between the environmental crisis and the failures of our economic system.
We have found that these barriers are most quickly overcome as people heal from the mental and emotional harm caused by oppression. SAL and UER events provide opportunities for people to take turns listening to each other while encouraging emotional release. We become better able to think, speak out, organize, unite, and lead others in building a sustainable world.
SAL and UER are projects of and use the tools of Re-evaluation Counseling, which currently exists in 95 countries.