Reverend Billy’s Revelations

Issue 270

In these doom-laden times, a Bob Marley song tells us what we need to know.

Reverend Billy Talen Apr 6, 2022

Dear Rev,
I check my phone every day for news from the war in Ukraine. I hope it ends soon. Most of all I don’t want this to become a nuclear war. I’ve been concerned about climate change for a long time, and, to be honest, I worry more about these weapons that could end life on Earth as we know it in a single day and worry less about the end coming in decades or centuries with climate change. What are you thinking?

Fort Greene

Walter, two timelines to Hell, comparing nuclear winter to the climate melt-down… Sketchy, Walter, that’s fear not facts. You are gravitating to your personal maximum terror. Let’s go in another direction. Instead of choosing one terror over another, what if we answer your question from the least terrifying perspective. 

You remember Bob Marley’s phrase, “One Love”? What if the solution to climate violence and war violence is a practical application of nonviolence. I’m not asking you to picture Gandhi marching up against the Russian tanks, but stick with me here. I’ll start my One Love explanation with scaling up to a sort of intersectionality of issues, and what I believe is a more helpful view. 

Climate change causes war, and war is the world’s most ­intense spewing of carbon into the air. The two godzilla machines share similar direct attacks on ­innocent children. And obviously, most climate and war violence comes from petro-states, petro-corporations and/or petro-tyrants. The closer you look at the two kinds of mass mortality, the more they blend into each other in this modern era. They feature imperialism, racism, sexism and violence against those who cannot defend themselves.

So, Walter, don’t force yourself to make a choice between climate and war. That is a false dilemma. They are separate “issues” in the news of the corporate media, marketed separately, with each catastrophe generating its own experts, graphics and fashions, lobbyists and lawyers, etc. The creation of “false disconnections”, resisting analyses that reveal common causes — that is a neoliberal tactic, beloved by the billionaires who profit from … what? Climate chaos and war.

Leaders should be healers. Our leaders of the ­future are the leaders who let us have a future. And our one basic solution for climate and war? Leave the oil in the ground. As for the deep cultural and psychological ­habits of violence that come down to us through the centuries… well… the solution there is the “One Love” in the song. It’s the One Love we all feel.


Reverend Billy Talen is the pastor of the Church of Stop Shopping. Have a question for the Reverend? Email and unburden your soul.