The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Australia has been meeting (2-10 July). The Backhouse Lecture is a highlight every year.
This year, the theme was “Creating hope: Working for justice in catastrophic times”presented by Yarrow Goodley on 5 July.
In the Lecture, Yarrow looks at the critical issue of climate justice – at how our responses to the climate emergency have the potential for great suffering, as well as great redemption. In a world where the rich pollute, and the poor suffer, we do not just need to address our rapidly-warming planet, but also the injustices which drive this environmental catastrophe. Yarrow, in conversation with Quaker and non-Quaker activists, explores the history of this crisis, and the despair and hope we must negotiate in coming to grips with a problem of planetary proportions. This crisis offers us an unparalleled opportunity to remake our political, economic and social systems, in ways that support a liveable planet, while addressing the profound injustices of our age, especially racial inequality. Yarrow asks us ‘what can we do?’ and seeks to offer ways forward that create hope not just for all people, but for all the living creatures on our small blue-green planet.
About the author: Yarrow was nineteen years old in 1988, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded, and the IPCC’s five-yearly reports have sounded ever more dire warnings throughout their adulthood. Having worked all their life as an early childhood educator, Yarrow is reminded every day of the uncertain future that awaits their young students. These children will be Yarrow’s current age in 2070 – a future that may be either apocalyptic or utopian, depending on our actions now. As a Quaker, an activist, and a gardener, Yarrow aims for that utopian future, even when the path to that place is murky.