We are at war, and Americans will be paying attention to little else for at least the next two weeks. It is a serious time for our nation. Americans are putting their lives on the line, and nightly news will reveal the daily destruction and death toll on both sides. These tragic events will preoccupy the hearts and minds of the American people.
But as this war proceeds, the rest of the world will not stand still. The Congress and state legislatures will still meet and cast votes on critical environmental issues. Corporations, federal and state officials, and judges will still make decisions that will impact the environment. Some will cynically use the distraction of the war as an excuse to step up efforts to reduce environmental protection. And the American people have a job to do on the home front -- taking care of America the Beautiful.
Our communications work will need to be reflective of this complicated set of circumstances. We will monitor the situation daily and make necessary adjustments along the way. But for the remainder of March, we will:
Speak out on the need for peace. We have released the Sierra Club's statement opposing the war; we continue to respond to press inquiries. We will also participate in appropriate anti-war activities and statements that reflect the policy and tone of respectful dissent set by the Board.
Stand up for what we believe. The environmental agenda, like the rest of the domestic agenda, is important. Those who would dash our dreams and lower our expectations will try to take advantage the window of war, as the Administration and the Alaska Congressional delegation did this week in trying to sneak through authorization to turn the Arctic National Wildife Refuge over to the oil industry. We must speak out respectfully, but firmly. We must not let them profiteer environmentally during this war.
Lobby -- Congress and state legislatures are still in session and continuing to work. We need to remain fully engaged as key decisions are being made. Because it will be difficult to reach the general public through the media, it will be more important than ever that our members and supporters let our leaders and decision makers know that we need to move forward with protecting the environment of this land we love.
Reach the public at the local level -- While we believe the national news coverage will be dominated by war coverage, there's been a real uptick in local coverage in the past two week -- perhaps because, the more global is at threat, the more dear the local, the near become.
Look further into the future, lengthen our time horizons. Use this time to talk to magazines, newsletters, communications outlets with longer lead times. This lays the groundwork for coming back even stronger when the media again begin paying more attention to domestic issues and messages.
Be sensitive. Be respectful of each other's opinions and fears. Now is not the time for harsh partisan or personal critiques. Avoid the use of war metaphors and rhetoric. Indeed, now is the time for messages of hope, for vision, for inspiration. However dark the threat our response should be couched in high moral purpose and infused with deep human compassion. The anti-war messages delivered in the past few months by Wendell Berry and Senator Robert Byrd can serve as message models for us.
Be proud. We are working for environmental justice, freedom from pollution, and the protection of the wild lands we all love.
Remind people of the healing power, spiritual renewal and comfort nature provides in these troubled times. In that spirit, we share these words from Wendell Berry:
"In the Peace of Wild Things" When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not take their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Please read Senator Robert Byrd's excellent speech,
Today, I Weep for My Country...
Statement from the Sierra Club president.