A Day of Media Interviews!
COP 15 – Bella Center
Sister Jayanti, Sonja, Julia, Patricia, Winnie, and Arnold set off to COP15, the government meeting. This was Sister Jayanti, Sonja and Julia's first visit to the Bella Center, as they had been involved with the Religious Leaders meeting up until now. After registering we familiarized ourselves with the huge conference venue, visited the BK stand, had a meeting with Climate Change TV person, Anna, who was organizing an interview with us later in the day, and sat in one of the main plenary sessions of the climate negotiations.
Just as we sat down in the packed conference room, Mr. Vijai Sharma, IAS Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests was about to speak. This was perfect timing. Patricia recognized him as someone she used to work with, and a little while after his intervention she called him out of the conference room to meet with Sister Jayanti. A very lovely meeting took place where he acknowledged the importance of the presence of spiritual leaders and organizations such as ours. He said that during these negotiations we work at a different and much needed level which helps the negotiators, such as him, do their job and move things forward.
Press Conference at COP15
Organized jointly by The Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change (with whom we are sharing our stand) and 350.org organized (highlighting the benchmark of 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. The title of the Press conference was Spirit and Science in Agreement on the Climate Crisis. It lasted for an hour with 2 panels. Sister Jayanti spoke on the second panel facilitated by 350.org
Sister Joan Brown, OSF, Franciscans International, shared that climate change of heart and soul is needed. St. Francis would say, follow in the footsteps of Jesus, look after your carbon foot print! At the end of his life when St. Francis was a bit disheartened about the situation around him he would say, "Let us follow Jesus NOW". We are now saying: Let us begin NOW. ACT NOW.
Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, Foreign Relations Manager, Muslim Council of Denmark said people may ask what this has got to do with religion, maybe nothing, but it has got to do with religious people. Money is running the show, not humans; we have to reclaim our planet from the multi-nationals, and put it into the hands of concerned people, concerned scientists, and concerned religious people. Our religions teach us this concern, and we have to join hands as we are all in the same boat. We have to raise the awareness of concerned people.
Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University, said that stewardship is the keyword. He spoke of how he was part of the first conference in Rio, and how President Bush (senior's) advisers had at one point encouraged Bush not to go to Rio, because they did not want to be put in the position of having to sign anything. But ultimately Bush decided to go, along with a little known senator of the time – Al Gore. Many years have passed since then. We are now close to the end and we have to fix it. It cannot be solved by one; it has to be a multilateral agreement. Moral principles are involved.
Venerable Chang Ji, Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association. It is when we live by our ethical values that we live more wholesome lives. Even though your personal interest is at stake, you have to let go of some things for the sake of the public interest. There is value in looking at the interconnectedness of all.
Sister Jayanti said crisis is not just to do with the climate change crisis it is a crisis in ethics and values. Sometimes we need to "hit a wall" for us to make changes. That wall is fast heading towards us. Physical things will happen quickly when there is a change of human hearts and consciousness. The essential factor of the human being is consciousness, awareness – thought. There is the whole system of belief, that the quality of our thoughts impacts the world around us and the process of meditation, contemplation and prayer is to connect to the deep peace love and truth within our inner being so that thoughts of this quality can be transmitted into the world but it is also this quality of thought that is translated into action.
Rabbi Bent Lexner, Chief Rabbi of Denmark shared that the Bible tells us to guard and keep the earth. Science is clear; humanity is doing a dangerous experiment, and we must tell our people that we are commanded to guard the earth.
Lakha Lama Rinpoche, Pendeling Centre for Tibetan Buddhism said what is needed is nonviolence, awareness and respect. Violence comes from inside pollution which makes us greedy and steal from nature that which is not given. We take from the planet and then the waste from that changes into chemicals. This is a lot of violence to our home. We need to teach our children non-violence. Science and religion need to come together. We need inner science - the inner science which exists before the outer science.
Tahirih Naylor, representing Bahai International Community's UN office stated that this is not only a crisis but an opportunity to live at the next level of maturing. We also believe that it is the inner perspective which moulds the outer perspective.
Questions were taken from the press, including a young reporter from World Watch.
Interview with Climate Change TV.
Climate Change TV is the world's first Internet broadcaster dedicated entirely to climate change issues, featuring exclusive interviews with world leaders, environmental ministers, expert scientists, decision makers, activists and many of the most important and influential figures involved in the international climate change debate. The BKs were given the opportunity to be interviewed in the middle of the large space at the Bella Center where an audience gathered to hear the interview. The interview was also broadcast throughout the Bella Center at other times during the day. Questions asked were: Tell us about the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University? What is your purpose of being here? What is the role of meditation in this? What would you say to the leaders of the world gathered here?
Interview with Religious Affairs Correspondent, Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
In the afternoon Sister Jayanti, Golo Pilz and Sonja Ohlsson were interviewed at the BK center by Anders Laugesen. He is well traveled and has spent the last 20 years looking at different religions., Having spent a couple of years in India, he was very interested to know the role of women and the power of the Shakti, in particular the role that goddess Kali,as her appearance seems particularly violent. Sister Jayanti spoke of the goddesses' role as representing the power to destroy evil and this is why these goddesses appear so fearsome. They represent the end of evil and conquering of the fear of death because of the true knowledge of immortality. Laugesen then said he sometimes felt that religious people, especially yogis, were well away from the turmoil of the world and it was easy for them to stay cool and calm while the rest of the world suffered. Golo intervened here and shared how in BK yogis too had to make effort to stay cool and calm. They as ordinary people, had also come from the confusion of the world and even if a yogi lives in mountains, such as the Aravalli mountains of Rajasthan (where the BKs have their headquarters), there is plenty of activity going on. For example, he was presently involved into a huge project, dealing with many people, a lot of machinery and technology, and it was because of a lot of intense spiritual effort on his part that he is able to stay cool and calm in these often hectic circumstances. Sonja also shared how she has to deal with a lot of pressure, and stressful people in her work as a community nurse, and it is her practice of daily meditation that keeps her cool and calm.
Laugesen enjoyed his time so much he stayed for one and a half hours, and on departure shared how he could see that even though Sister Jayanti had a lot of gentleness in her demeanor and voice, when he looked in her eyes he could see the power of shakti. The interview will be broadcast together with Sonja's meditation commentary in Danish.
Activism at COP15
Bella Conference Center is teeming with people from all over the world, and the plenary rooms are full – It's 'standing room' or rather 'sitting on the floor room' only! EnlightenNext reported that he went into the plenary early to make sure of a seat and heard a lot of noise outside. He went out after some time and found that the security had moved the slogan chanting activists far from the entrance of the plenary room creating a corridor, so that the activists could not disturb the meetings.
Christiania – Windows of Hope
Renaud Russeil gave a presentation in the afternoon called From Fear to Non-Violence, Changing our Lifestyle for a Sustainable Future. About 50 people attended, some of whom were interested in having a conversation for about half an hour after the event.
Ray of the Day
You may remember we mentioned in Monday's report that CAN (Climate Action Network) – a group of 400 NGOs -- organize a prize presentation called the Fossil of the Day and that we had suggested they also have a prize called Enlightenment of the Day. They said that they were thinking of this but were going to call it Ray of the Day (a better name) Today the 'Ray' was born and the small country of Tuvalu in the Pacific received the Ray of the Day award for their efforts in climate change negotiations. The country is particularly affected by climate change and has brought the legal aspect of the COP 15 onto the pitch.