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“Is this the pipeline that is desired of us?” Talk to Rally Against Keystone XL Pipeline


Joelle Novey, Director
Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light

Delivered to Sept 2 2011 Rally Against the Keystone XL Pipeline
Behind the White House

I speak this afternoon on behalf of hundreds of congregations in the DC area that are working to respond to climate change in their sacred communities. These congregations work together through an organization called Interfaith Power & Light.

And I speak as one of dozens of religious people – priests and ministers and rabbis, Christians and Jews and Muslims and Unitarian Universalists and Buddhists – who put their faith into action over the past two weeks by walking across the street to the White House and who would not be moved.

We are here today about a pipeline. Pipelines, essentially, take something from one place to another. And to be a human being living on Earth is to benefit every day from lots of good pipelines.

This land on which we find ourselves is criss-crossed by hundreds of waterways –- natural pipelines — mountain streams and gullies and culverts that bring water to rivers and the ocean where it eventually returns to the mountains.

In every tree in this park, the sap and water rises through xylem pipelines into the air and along each branch, nourishing every leaf.

And in each of our own bodies today, our hearts are pumping blood through the rest of us, through arteries and veins, bringing oxygen to every cell along extraordinary pipelines. There is a Jewish prayer that praises the openings and closings that allow our bodies to function each day. We are, each of us, fearfully and wonderfully made, and we are full of pipelines.

But now, we have been asked to stand idly by as our government makes way for TransCanada to build an enormous, unnatural pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline.

This afternoon I borrow from the prophet Isaiah and imagine us being asked a question from on high: “Is this the pipeline that I desire?”

This pipeline, which would carry oil extracted from the Earth by destroying indigenous people’s homeplaces in Alberta, Canada. Is this the pipeline that I desire?

This pipeline, which would endanger the drinking water of families in six states, across 1700 miles of ranch land and farm country. Is this the pipeline that I desire?

This pipeline, which would bring its dirty crude to be refined in communities already bearing too many toxic facilities, in refineries that pollute the air and water, making children and elders sick. Is this the pipeline that I desire?

This pipeline, whose oil would be burned, releasing heat-trapping carbon into our atmosphere, permanently damaging our Earth’s life-giving climate. Is this the pipeline that I desire?

This pipeline, whose crude would be sold for filthy high profits, dollars that would surely be used in turn to buy off our leaders and distort our politics. Is this the pipeline that I desire?

And this pipeline, whose dirty contents will reek of the destruction their extraction caused on the way in, and surely only do damage to living things on the way out. Is this the pipeline that I desire?

No. This afternoon, I believe that this is not the pipeline that God desires of us.

So what is desired of us?

Well, pipelines connect. And we do so deeply need to be more strongly connected to each other.

We need pipelines of solidarity, that remind us that the hopes and dreams of First Nations communities in Canada, and families in Nebraska, and families in Texas, are not so different from the hopes and dreams we have, and from the hopes and dreams of people around the world on the front lines of climate change in Bangladesh and in Uganda. But this Keystone XL pipeline is not the pipeline we need.

We need pipelines carrying ingenuity, to bring us new solutions for getting our electricity from sun and wind, to get our energy from heaven instead of coal and oil energy from hell. But this Keystone XL pipeline is not the pipeline we need.

We need pipelines full of compassion, to remind our leaders and businesspeople of our common humanity, that we are all in one boat, and that we will only preserve the Earth’s climate by working together. But this Keystone XL pipeline is not the pipeline we need.

We need pipelines to bring us an expanded consciousness, to see that we are deeply connected to the entire ecosystem, to the plants and to the animals, to see that what we do to our natural world will touch us too, and soon. But this Keystone XL pipeline is not the pipeline we need.

We need pipelines conveying our highest hopes for the future, that might lead us towards decisions that dare to imagine a better, safer, cleaner world for our children and grandchildren. But this Keystone XL pipeline is not the pipeline we need.

May this afternoon mark our turning. May today be the day of our turning together.

Today, let’s turn together to the task of building only the pipelines that are desired of us.

And let all of these good people say: Amen.

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