Systemic Change Needed

By Irene Pang 

Ever since I understood the climate crisis emergency, it has fundamentally changed the entire thought process of the myriads decisions my family and I have to make every day: the way we drive and go about, the food we eat, stuffs to buy (or not to buy), where to invest our money and many more. We are committed to do as much as we can to reduce our carbon footprints. 

I wish I can tell you that this journey has been fun and pleasant. But instead, I found it difficult and inconvenient. 

We tried to ditch single-use plastics, only realised that over 95% of items on the shelf comes with plastic packaging that are sadly non-recyclable in the municipal system. We tried to take public transit and drive less, only found that a 10-minute drive would turn into 3 bus trips that takes over an hour. Not to mention that it costs considerably more to buy local produce than items that have travelled from thousands of miles away.

We stumbled, compromised, and then tried again, just like many others. And such experience has opened my eyes to the reality that many of our so-called personal choices are indeed readily made by the economic system which thrives on extractivism and killing the planet. Within the existing system, our actions, big or small, of not hurting the planet is a battle by default. 

It is not a battle against one’s will power, it is a battle against the system.

Yet our personal inconvenience has become trivial, when comparing to the enormous sacrifice that many have made. And plenty of them are close to home. The numerous days and nights that Indigenous land defenders have spent behind make-shift school bus blockades, fending off bulldozers coming in the name of economic development. The pledge that 200 youths from across Canada had made to go on a hunger strike to stop the Teck Resources’ Frontier oilsands project in early 2020. 

No matter how challenging and inconvenient it might be, or how little our influence might seem to be, there is no reason for not joining the fight. For real changes to happen, we need enough people to recognize the importance of acting sooner rather than waiting. We need enough people willingly incur a relatively small cost now to avoid an enormous future cost to our youth and children. We need enough people to use their votes to elect climate sincere leaders. We need enough people to working at the systematic level to fight climate change. We need enough people to co-create a just economic and social system that thrives on caring of the Earth and all people. 

It is difficult and inconvenient. Yet it is holy. It is an act of love. It is doing justice to the sacred Earth that God creates and the sacred people that God dearly loves. 


Irene is a member of the Climate Justice Niagara Committee and a parishioner at Grace Church Waterdown.