Can the upcoming Paris Climate Summit be a Peace Summit?


The violence of the Paris attacks must unequivocally be condemned. Calls for war are heard from most governments and plans to destroy ISIS on the land they occupy in the Middle East are being drawn and implemented. But what is more than ever needed is global solidarity. As security becomes the main focus of French society and government, we must also keep our heads cool. We must not fall in the trap of the terrorists who would like us to meet violence with more violence. This would be a tragedy for the world.

We will have the opportunity, in less than two weeks now, to demonstrate that we can get together as a global movement that transcends borders and cultural differences and rise up to confront the major existential threats we are facing together. In Paris on November 13, we have experienced horrendous killings and for the first time faced “kamikazes” within our own community, yet we must endeavor to remember that people in other countries have been facing equally dreadful conditions on a daily basis. And often such conditions are related to climate change, droughts or floods, that fan conflicts in many parts of the world, displacing people and forcing them to migrate to countries that are neither prepared nor inclined to welcome them.

So this is an exceptional time, one during which we must rise up to our full potential for humanity and solidarity and show that we will not let fear and shortsightedness paralyze us. Clearly aware of the danger that exists and doing what is necessary to protect ourselves, we must also proactively look for solutions that are not just war-based and search deeply inside ourselves for those feelings of fraternity in order to extend it to all, including those beyond our borders.

In fact some Parisians are already looking for such connection and hold arms stretched out to others. In radio programs they discuss ways of nurturing that feeling that brings us together in these days of mourning. They present testimonies of people who acted individually at the peril of their own life to save that of others, of ordinary people who helped during the events. Many such testimonies urge to maintain and reinforce the opening that exists at this time as the only operative response to this collective drama. Let also extend our open hearts and souls to those suffering the hardship of climate-related dangers.

Personally, after feeling devastated by the attacks, I am apprehensive about the fate of civil society actions around the summit (planned climate marches in Paris have been cancelled). But I can only feel grateful for what we have instead of looking at what we don’t. I accept that this is a defining moment for us all. A moment that makes us mourn for those we have lost and for all those who feel unsettled by these events. But, as many witnesses who were there and survived unscathed have mentioned, it is also the opportunity to show that we won’t hate, we will rise from the ashes and build something new that empowers us all. This is a chance to look at the world with new eyes. And this new vision will allow us to invent innovative ways of being together in this world and working towards a life-sustaining world and not a death-producing one as claimed by the terrorists.

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