Pride and Courage In The Age of Climate Change

Issue 247

Reverend Billy Talen Jun 2, 2019

Hi Bill, I was pleased to learn that the Williams Pipeline won’t be pumping fracked gas through New York Harbor anytime soon. But I worry we keep fighting these small battles while a larger war is underway for our planet. How do we know what to prioritize? Is there a better way?


— Heather, Red Hook

Dear Heather,

Every small victory builds toward the Earth Revolution. But we are out-matched by the fossil fuel industry, their bankers and the police.

The average person in the United States has lost their sense of courage. Our strongest form of courage starts from the gentlest source, our love for children, neighbors, from the Earth around us. This ain’t no Hallmark card. The revolutionary coming from a theory or a paycheck is never as fierce as the one who arrives from love. 

Our loving isn’t igniting our warrior-ness right. The capitalism matrix sees this intimate place as a profit center and pours in superheroes with no politics, luxury condos and 10,000 ads a day. Product-life!

Our urge to survive and to protect our loved ones is embedded in our common sense, our quiet sense of self, what we naturally have within us. I remember a rally against the Williams Pipeline at City Hall just two days before the postponement of the metal snake. Ladonna Brave Bull Allard spoke to us. She is the mother of the Standing Rock Movement, making a proclamation alone that summer of 2016 that became a gathering of hundreds of Earth peoples standing in the way of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Before sending us off marching over the Brooklyn Bridge she told us to “stand up with the Earth!”

“You are the Earth!,” she said. “You have the power!”

— Earthalujah!


Dear Billy, I look forward to Pride every year. The energy of the parade is incredible but it has gotten so corporate. How do we celebrate the strides our movement’s make without being co-opted? 

— Dexter, Paramus

Dear Dexter,

Let’s cut the shit. You say Pride is “so corporate.” What do you mean? Let’s ask: What corporations are sponsoring the Pride parade in 2019? Let’s go to the website. There, clear as day, is the sky-blue hexagon logo of JPMorgan Chase, the number one funder of fossil fuel in the world.

Pride is so corporate and we all are.

Let this number sink in: 250,000. That’s the most-quoted estimate of the dead in 2018 from climate-caused floods, wildfires, drought and superstorms. People are burned alive because of Chase. They drown. Roofs cave in and babies are crushed in basements. Chase puts millions of tons of carbon dioxide in the air. They make profits for their speculator stockholders by moving money into oil wells, open pit mines, pipelines and cluster bombs. (War is the human event that hurts the climate the most.) Chase is a city-state of ghouls in suits. CEO Jamie Dimon makes $31 million a year. 

Can we stop pretending for a minute? The reason Jamie Dimon isn’t in prison is because the laws are not being enforced and most of us know this. It’s people like the organizers of Pride who accord respect to Dimon, this Al Capone crossed with Idi Amin, by taking his money. By playing along we keep his performance going. We keep his act real. So yeah, Pride is so corporate and we all are.

Try the Reclaim Pride march, Dexter. Same day, different route, and very different feel.

Reverend Billy is an activist and political shouter, a post-religious preacher of the streets and bank lobbies. Have a question for Reverend Billy? Just email and unburden your soul.

Photo credit: Joe Schulz.

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