On Winning and Not Winning in the “Fight” for “Justice” in the Web of Life by Carol P. Christ
A few days ago, the United States Supreme Court upheld the deeply flawed heath care law passed by Congress. (I will not call it “Obamacare” as I do not believe Obama “owns” the concept of universal health care any more than Lyndon Baines Johnson or even Martin Luther King “owned” the concept of civil rights.) As a progressive I view universal health care as the only truly just health care system. Still, I consider the Supreme Court decision a “victory.”
The same day the Supreme Court decided, I received a copy of a letter from the Greek government accessing 81,950 Euros in fines against the road-building company that violated the highly protected Natura wetlands while constructing the 36th National Road in Lesbos. Another “victory.”
Two weeks ago the cause of “justice,” as I see it, was not served when the center-right party New Democracy Party gained the majority in the Greek elections and became the central player in a coalition government. With New Democracy in coalition with the center-left Pasok, it is unlikely that corrupt politicians and tax evaders will be made to repay the money they have stolen from the Greek people. At the same time, it is likely that the Greek people in the middle and lower classes will be made to pay even more than they already have for the failure of a corrupt system of government. The Green Party missed gaining 8 seats in Parliament in the first election by 4000 votes. In the second election we lost ground, while the fascist Neo-Nazi party that calls itself The Golden Dawn, garnered 18 seats.
I have spent countless hours over the past ten years writing complaints about the violation of Natura wetlands in Lesbos, and I wrote several of the letters complaining about the 36th National Road. Other fines have been imposed in the past–though never for as much as 81,950 Euros–but not a single violated wetland has been repaired. I can only hope it will be different this time. In the past three months I have passed out many thousands of flyers as a candidate of the Green Party for Parliament in two islands and in more than twenty villages and two cities. When we failed to get into Parliament by only 4000 votes, I felt proud that in Lesbos and Limnos we got more than the required 3% needed to get into Parliament. I felt inspired when the Green Party’s national spokeswoman Ioanna Kondouli vowed, “We will be back. We are not going away.”
When we lost big in the second election, I must admit I felt deflated. The thought, “All that work for nothing,” crossed my mind. When I asked my pal and co-candidate in the Green Party how he felt about losing, he replied simply, “You and I are not in this to win elections.” His answer felt a bit like a Zen koan, containing a meaning I had not yet fathomed.
I think what my friend meant was that “we are in this” to save the planet. This is a big goal, a big dream, and a huge task. In the day-to-day struggle there often seem to be more losses than gains. There are many days when I think, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and I am glad I won’t live long enough to see the devastation of the environment–and the suffering in the web of life for humans and other than humans alike–that people younger than me will most likely witness and experience.”
And then I remember a conclusion I reached during the process of writing Rebirth of the Goddess. The reason for hope, I wrote, is not the rational calculation that we will be able to save the world. The reason for hope is that it is important for us to try. As I said over and over again to the women and men who accepted the flyers I handed to them: “I am doing this for your children and grandchildren, and as long as I am alive, I will keep trying to save people and the environment together.” We will be back. We are not going away.
Carol P. Christ is a founding mother in the study of women and religion, feminist theology, women’s spirituality, and the Goddess movement. She teaches online courses in the Women’s Spirituality program at CIIS. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. One of her great joys is leading Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete through Ariadne Institute.