Grassroots Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice

21431 Marlin Circle     Shade Gap PA 17255     814-259-3680     grassroots1@pa.net

December 27, 2017

Dear Friends,

I’m writing you, along with many others, almost all of whom now or have been involved in social justice activities, to constitute an ongoing think tank for the Coalition, contributing their thinking and experience periodically to an ever-more effective operation.

As the year comes to an end, there is much to make us distressed:

Two unprecedented, intensifying, increasingly deadly attacks on this planet and its life – Climate Change and nuclear war. These two are so grave and so threatening that every single person on the planet should devote as much time as possible to halting and reversing them. Just as in World War II, everything should be devoted to this mission.

Additional injustices responsible for extreme suffering and death of living creatures – economic exploitation and oppression of the middle and lower classes, destruction of the environment, racism, conventional, unceasing wars, sexism, control of the American government by a few thousand rich corporations and individuals who value wealth and power for themselves above all.

At the same time, however, there are enough good people to overcome these injustices and create a just, caring and democratic society, if only they would join together and work effectively. Without that union of many millions, nothing of consequence can change, because the opposition is highly organized and wealthy and has been so for much of American history.

Here’s how our effort to create that union is now working:

  • We’ve identified leaders of many American organizations whose members number in the millions and we’ve invited them to work together.
  • We are starting with the most fearsome of the injustices – Climate Change.
  • Every month we choose one aspect of Climate Change e.g. use of fossil fuels, profits of energy companies, heat, droughts/famine/migrations, wildfires, melting of ice caps and glaciers, tipping points, rising oceans, flooding of coastal areas, extreme weather events. At some point we’ll start to focus on the other great injustices.
  • We are producing a monthly Newsletter (January issue attached) with 1) current information about that one aspect, and 2) encouragement to contact elected representatives, primarily in the federal government, to urge them to take appropriate steps to deal with that aspect. The Newsletter asks recipients to keep the replies of the representatives until election time, and then to vote accordingly, based on the drift of those replies, their own knowledge and their conscience. Of course, this necessitates acquiring information about the opponents of the current representatives too.
  • We encourage recipients to focus on local issues e.g. conservation, renewables, education etc.
  • We are sending this Newsletter to the leaders of many organizations, some of whose members number in the millions, and urging them to get it into the hands of as many of their members as possible.
  • Now I am offering to meet with these leaders to discuss and plan this operation, especially collaboration among the participating leaders and their members. A model for the kind of a joint effort is Organized Labor, with each union having its central office and local groups across the country – each independent but all inter-connected.
  • As soon as possible, we shall invite, encourage and assist all of the participating members to form into Small Social Justice Groups who further our mission of creating a just, caring and democratic society by engaging in mutual support, joint activities and outreach to the broader society. We shall devise effective forms of interconnectedness among the Groups, which will provide them with strength they’ve never before experienced. This is the ultimate form of democracy in our times.
  • We shall encourage and assist the Small Groups to arrange social events which attract new members – dinners, films, speakers, entertainment, outings.

We first proposed this specific model of joint activity to 9,500 leaders only a few months ago, which means that it’s probably too soon to expect an overwhelming response.

These are leaders of: 1) universities, 2) labor unions, 3) churches, and 4) social justice organizations.

Four suggestions for now:

  • You may agree with this approach and get involved in it. We’ll give you all possible support.
  • You may come up with modifications in this process that will make it more effective.
  • You may devise a different approach which recipients benefit from knowing.
  • We’ll do our best to keep everyone informed of what everyone else is doing.

But please never lose sight of the fact that time is of the essence. We have 5-10-15 years left at best, an incredibly short amount of time. The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has already tipped, in the judgement of many climate scientists. It can’t be reversed. Remember that presently 40% of the world’s population live within a few miles of the coast, and then think of the consequences of the flooding and abandonment of the major coastal cities of the world, inevitably producing mass migrations (resisted by powerful military forces) and increased poverty. Look up Norfolk VA, Miami Beach FL, the Chesapeake Bay, New York City, New Orleans LA, Boston.

Just the other day (12/21/17) there was an article in the New York Times: Jakarta is Sinking so Fast, It Could End Up Underwater, which described how “rivers sometimes flow upstream, ordinary rains regularly swamp neighborhoods and buildings slowly disappear underground, swallowed up by the Earth. Coastal districts have sunk as much as 14 feet in recent years. Hydrologists say the city has only a decade to halt its sinking. If it can’t, northern Jakarta, with its millions of residents, will end up underwater, with much of the nation’s economy.”

Other tipping points are on track to follow soon. To do nothing now is sheer insanity.

If you agree with me that our best and probably only hope lies in enlisting many millions of people to engage in the activities listed above, bear in mind that most people who think about this say that the average person is concerned mostly about his/her personal life – the here and now, which means that, in their minds, neither the suffering of other people in distant parts of the world, nor people who will suffer in the future, warrant any real concern or action.

In light of that reluctance to get involved, the major question of our times is: how in the world can we arouse enough people to care and to act? Can you help us to answer this major question?

If you are in general agreement with our approach, here are a few thoughts for practical action:

  • I’d  be more than happy to meet with you and others whom you gather – relatives, friends. Or with any group which you currently belong to e.g. a church or a school or a civic group or a neighborhood group.
  • If you want to gather some friends, relatives or neighbors together, but consider yourself insufficiently informed, get in touch and we’ll figure out what informational materials I can supply you with.
  • As the number of Groups increases in an area, I’ll inform each one about the others.
  • If you decide to deviate from our approach, please keep me informed of progress, so that I can share your progress with others.
  • If, for now, you choose to act alone, please read our Newsletter each month and take the steps it proposes. Share it (electronically or hard copy) with as many others as possible. If you want hard copies, let me know, or make them yourself.

At the rate we’re going – business as usual – the terrible consequences of Climate Change and nuclear war are virtually certain sooner or later, as sure as the rising and setting of the Sun, unless each of us commits considerable time and energy to joining together to radically change the direction of our society. The wonderful world in which we grew up is steadily departing.

Don’t think about the difficulties and problems and hardships coming from a major commitment. Think about spending a little time getting started, and after you’ve started, you can gradually increase your commitment, without pain. Nike is not a good company, but they have a good slogan: “Just Do It.”

In hope,
John Conner

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