One of the 6 concepts from Fuller’s Growing Young is to Be The Best Neighbours, looking at enabling young people to neighbour well locally and globally instead of condemning the world outside our walls.
This concept has been on the forefront of my mind in the last few weeks.
I have had the honour to help organize two climate forums, especially as we lead up to this years federal election. One a young adult climate policy forum (although aimed at young adults, it was also open for all) and the other a Pasifika pre-election climate forum.
Through the planning and organising of these two events, there was a constant theme through the many conversations had. How do we be good neighbours through climate change?
How do we love our neighbours in these circumstances?
How do we show that we love God when we continue to destroy His creation?
How do we love ourselves in a way that doesn’t just satisfy our materialistic wants and needs, but in ways that actually sustain us as humans, as communities, as followers of Christ?
I am thankful, as a young Pasifika woman in the Uniting Church, for the invitation to share my voice in the process of organising these forums. For the opportunity to allow other young Pasifika adults to take part and share their stories in front of hundreds of people, including community leaders and politicians.
I am grateful to our leaders in the church, in our communities, at Uniting, for being good neighbours and providing this space, this platform. Allowing the Pasifika voice to be amplified for necessary ears to hear.
But is this enough?
At the young adult climate policy forum, Maina Talia, one of the two speakers of the night who is from Tuvalu and is a current PhD student studying Indigenous knowledge, climate change and geopolitics really challenged us as Christians.
Being from Tuvalu, Maina has first had experience on the effects climate change has on their island. He and his people suffer and grieve as their island sinks.
“When we talk about land we talk about people, and when we talk about people we talk about God. When the land is sinking, we are sinking, and God is sinking with us.”– Maina Talia
There is no concept of buying different land in Tuvalu. In Maina’s own words during his sharing at the climate policy forum, he tells the wider community to stop praying for Tuvalu and to start praying for us to change our ways. Tuvalu is already sinking, intense cyclones are already hitting the Pacific, tsunamis and volcanic erruptions and floods and never ending bushfires and rainfall is already happening.
It is us who need to start changing how we live as it has impacted the climate and in effect the Pacific.
We need to be good neighbours, loving neighbours, proactive Christians, and combat climate change.
“We are not in the same boat. We are going through the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.”– Maina Talia
Here in Australia we have the opportunity to vote for politicians and parties that can priorities climate policy and action.
Here in Australia, if we collectively make changes in our lives for more sustainable living, it makes a difference.
It isn’t enough to only have a handful of people acting. We must all do this together.
If you are in a space of privilege and power, offer those spaces and platforms for voices to be heard, concerns to be amplified, and actions to be followed through with.
Allow all voices to be heard, no matter age, gender, sexuality, religion, etc.
As Christians we should always remember to love our neighbour, whether they are local or global.
Ofa Foiakau is the Youth/High School Ministry Lead and Field Officer (Central/West) within the PULSE team.