Marianne Williamson: Bringing Spiritual Language and Energy to the Climate Emergency (Video)

In the above video, Marianne Williamson, Josh Fox and Ezra Silk discuss the climate emergency and the politics of love needed to save our world. Marianne is just a few thousand contributions away from securing a spot in the Democratic Party debates. Donate $1 HERE to help Marianne and her vitally important message make the debate stage.

Marianne Williamson: Bringing Spiritual Language and Energy to the Climate Emergency (and the Presidential Election)

By Ezra Silk, Director of Policy & Strategy for The Climate Mobilization

Every single species comes to a point where if its behavior is maladaptive for its survival it will either ... evolve or it will go extinct. And it’s only the most magical thinking which leads any of us to believe that that doesn’t apply to our species also. And yet our species is behaving in maladaptive ways. We fight too much and we are at war against our own habitat. Now, in every species, what happens if it does survive is a mutation arrives. And in spiritual terms the mutations are the great spiritual masters. The mutations are the great religious and spiritual figures who have arrived on the planet and demonstrated, not only expressed with their words, but demonstrated with their behavior, another way … It’s time for us to awaken from our magical thinking. The survival of our democracy is not guaranteed and the survival of the human race is not guaranteed, either.

– Democratic Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson’s speech on her Vision for Healing America and the World

Did you know there was someone running for president who talked like this? Until two weeks ago, I had no clue.

On April 18, the spiritual author and organizer Marianne Williamson was not on my radar. But as I read through the Democratic Party candidates’ responses to a New York Times climate policy survey that morning, I was taken by the candor and clarity of Williamson’s responses:

  • “I support treating the situation like the existential emergency that it is, meaning the United States will commit to all funding necessary to transition to a clean economy.”

  • “I support the Green New Deal, which seeks to meet 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources within the next 10 years.”

  • “The Obama regulations are too incremental to turn things around in ways that are necessary.”

My interest piqued, I loaded up Williamson’s climate platform. As I read through it I became increasingly excited, as it calls for a goal of reversing global warming and restoring a healthy environment, endorses the strongest interpretation of the Green New Deal while calling it a good first step, calls for a large scale effort to remove carbon from the atmosphere and a just transition, and commits to aggressive measures to break up factory farms, promote plant-rich diets and to otherwise tackle emissions from animal agriculture:

  • “There is a growing consensus in America that climate change is an existential emergency. As President, I would argue, in no uncertain terms, that rapid, man-made climate change and global warming represents a clear and present danger to our people, to our democracy, and to the world at large.”

  • “Our urgent goal is not just to hold temperature increases as close as possible to where they are now, but instead to reverse global warming back to more long-term sustainable levels. The current Paris Accords don’t go far enough - they may help stem off the worst of the worst consequences, but what we need to be aiming for is to restore health.”

  • “A Green New Deal would provide an overall strategy for how clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and transportation, and a national green jobs program can revitalize our economy and utilize our innovative and human capacity to benefit all our people. While it doesn’t cover the whole range of measures we must undertake to reverse global warming, it is an important step, therefore I support it.”

  • “The United States and world must take unprecedented action between now and 2030 to actually bring the carbon we put in the atmosphere back into the earth where it came from—to reforest, transform our dirt back to soil on our farms, restore wetlands, peatlands, and increase phytoplankton and fisheries—among other critical measures.”

  • “Most of the debate right now focuses on keeping temperature rises to around 1.5C or 2C, but that is not sustainable, we actually need to reverse warming trends. While shifting away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources gets the bulk of our attention in this area—there are numerous approaches we must take, in multiple sectors, to address climate change. Other critical areas include: reducing food waste, promoting a plant rich diet, protecting tropical forest, proper land management, regenerative agriculture and refrigerant management, among others. Even seemingly unrelated issues like educating women globally and family planning are known to be an important part of the solution.”

  • “Massive factory farms not only threaten and destroy the livelihoods of family farmers, but they are the largest producer of the most dangerous greenhouse gasses -- methane and nitrous oxide. Research suggests that even if we eliminate all fossil fuel use, we will still exceed our atmosphere's ability to repair itself due to large agribusiness practices. We must break up these conglomerates, return farming to families instead of factories, and explore every means possible of reducing the impact of animal agriculture on our environment.”

While there is still room for improvement (in our view there should be a stronger focus on the broader ecological emergency as well as World War II mobilization-style economics, as opposed to carbon taxes), this is a groundbreaking climate emergency platform, rooted in the reality of the emergency and the need to reverse global warming and restore a safe climate with a just transition. This is unprecedented territory for U.S. presidential politics. Virtually the entire climate movement is still advocating for a target of 1.5C degrees or even higher, which could thaw large parts of the Arctic permafrost, destroy the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Arctic Summer sea ice, cause huge rises in sea level, and in a worst-case scenario, trigger runaway global warming. An emergency mobilization aimed at cooling the planet could give us a shot at survival, and a chance to build a flourishing ecological civilization that provides dignity for all people.

It was at this point that I began to check out Williamson’s videos, including her CNN Town Hall, as well as her new book, “The Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution” and discovered that Williamson is a formidable thinker and compelling orator steeped in American history. While the threat of human extinction is the backdrop of her message, like Pope Francis, Williamson is focused on the ways in which the climate emergency is a symptom of an aristocratic and sociopathic economic system that is waging war on America’s children, the middle class, our democracy, as well as the earth, and deepening our disconnection from all that is sacred. Williamson’s platform is based in a spiritually-rooted “politics of love” that aims to accomplish all of Bernie Sanders’ social democratic agenda (she was a strong Sanders supporter in 2016), protect America’s children from violence and poverty, comprehensively pivot our military-industrial complex toward the creation of a green manufacturing base and other vital peace-building efforts, and heal our racial divisions by proactively repairing the legacy of chattel slavery and the genocide of Native Americans. In particular, Williamson makes a persuasive case for $200 billion to $500 billion in slavery reparations, citing the German reparations programs for Jews after the Holocaust and the compensation provided to Japanese-Americans in the ‘80s for their internment during World War II.

A strategic, mass politics of love, truth and reconciliation, Williamson believes, can build the movement needed to save our democracy from the frightening forces that have operationalized a “politics of fear,” gathered behind President Trump and taken over much of our government. Those who believe that traditional political calculation, poll-tested communications strategies and even secular appeals to social justice can defeat President Trump are “dangerously naive” about the nature of the opponent, Williamson argues. The great social justice movements in American history have emerged out of American religion, she argues, because the religious community takes love seriously.

Marianne Williamson speaks to the depth of this great crisis of American history - and the quality and scope of transformation required to meet it - like no political candidate I am aware of. And she deserves to be on the Democratic Party debate stage on the strength of her climate platform alone.

However, she has not yet met the threshold to make the debates. Donate as little as $1 HERE to help Marianne and her vitally important message make the debates.

All that said, we do have some constructive feedback on Williamson’s platform and talking points. We’ll be releasing our proposed national climate platform and a scorecard toward this end in the near future.

Disclaimer: This blog and the interview with Marianne Williamson is part of our direct political work carried out by the 501(c)4 arm of our operations. Any donations to the candidate or toward this work are not tax-deductible.

Ezra Silk