by Dominique Browning
It is time to fight with your mom — about something important. That’s my Mother’s Day message to daughters — and sons, moms and dads, aunts and uncles.
Running Moms Clean Air Force has been eye-opening in many ways, not the least of which is combatting the sadness, if not paralysis, that afflicts us, from time to time, in the face of a planet-altering problem: climate change. We don’t believe there’s anything we can do until we actually begin to feel the power of our voices.
How does that happen? It happens when we start to talk to each other, and realize we’re all staying awake at night worrying about the same thing: our children’s futures. It happens when we talk to our elected representatives, who only care about issues we care about. It happens when we drive out of office politicians who don’t listen. It happens when grandmothers go to jail to protect our sacred right to clean air. It happens when Senators tell us to “Call off your moms” or when a President challenges us to “Show me a movement!” –and we do.
My friends and I have been talking recently about…prison. Do we have to go to jail to prove our commitment to fighting climate change? Is a hunger strike a measure of how much you care? Many of us can’t leave work, leave children, leave home — that doesn’t mean we aren’t serious.
Now is not the time to be judgmental or smug about the paths we are choosing — except for one: doing nothing. Unacceptable. Now is not the time for any activist to claim the moral high ground. After all, many dedicated people have been working very hard to fight climate change for decades now. We lost cap and trade. But we won something huge: a national conversation. For the first time.
Now is not the time to decide that Washington DC battles over legislation and regulation are hopeless and ineffectual. They are not. If, for just one small example, we can protect the mercury regulations (MATS) that were passed last year — now crippled by legal assaults — we will do more to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants than stopping the Keystone pipeline.
Now is not the time for the environmental movement to take accusatory aim at each other. The problem is too big, too entrenched, and too complicated to say that there is only one simple solution. After all, everyone fighting the fossil fuel enemy is still … burning fossil fuels.
Instead, I propose that we fight with our mothers.
Moms Clean Air Force is just at the beginning of what we know is going to be a long journey. But already it reminds me of being a feminist in the sixties and seventies. It meant a lot, when I was fifteen, attending consciousness-raising sessions, that Grown Up Women — my own mother’s age! — were leading the way, demanding parity and equality, exposing injustice. They were unafraid, outspoken, and passionate. They believed in a different future.
We believe in that too. Mothers matter. The best solution to feeling depressed about the future is to unite — and take action. Give until it feels good. In honor of Mother’s Day, remember how important it is for mothers to be fighting with their daughters — and vice versa. There’s more power in sharing power. Our daughters and sons will soon be running this country; we can show them, by working right alongside them, that being a responsible parent means being an engaged citizen. So roll up your sleeves, and get into a good fight with your mother.
After you’ve given her those flowers, of course.
Dominique Browning is the Senior Director of Moms Clean Air Force.