Radical Empathy Provides Radical Energy.

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Mother (Nature) to Child

every mother dreams of the day her children, 

her fruits of labor, merely fledgling finches whose feathers are stuck with the saccharine* sap of morning dew 

saucer eyes agleam with the light of blissful ignorance 

can step off the stalwart oak tree at last 

and spread their wings 

every mother longs to know a segment of her soul can now sow seeds that flower  into 

gardens of sunflowers and dandelion wishes  

Preserve her presence in the hour of her senescence✝ 

and till the soil when her stump is ringed with the creases of time and she  wheezes  

from the weight of balancing on a tightrope torn to threads 

a mother only asks for so much 

and yet I am left to endure my cruel fate alone, limbs aching, 

my last reserves of strength shrunk to the size of Arctic sheet ice 

my fields bereft of the deftly poured rainwater they were nourished by now replaced with saline torrents  

once kept at bay by me 

after all I’ve done 

I thought that I’d have taught you a thing or two about reciprocity;

yes I bear the fruit of life itself,  

but I am no giving tree 

what can bloom in a garden untended? What fauna frolic in forests disfigured by a carbon  footprint  

In a world where jaundiced weeds run rampant 

and trample every patch of sunlight that hasn’t  

yet been shrouded by the awnings of 

slate-colored pop-up shops 

or bull-dozed by the burnt rubber of sports car wheels 

but you are far too old to blame your reckless driving on the glint of silver striking your now-hardened eyes 

once lit with soft gold curiosity 

you are no angel, but an Icarus, wings charred by sun rays 

disgrace,  

a big bad wolf who huffs and puffs fumes of methane knowing  

someone will suffer in your place 

as you watch thousand degree flames consume the Amazon  

While oil spills taint green and blue with murky hues 

from the safety  

of an air-conditioned conference room 

but you are NOT there to mourn the mothers’ dreams set alight by factory fumes listen to sonorous shrieks of children with arms outstretched skyward betrayed by the once welcome heat whose tendrils squeeze them like a vice 

they cannot till the soil  

let alone sift through the sledge-water that swallows them 

whole 

  

but my youngest part the sea with poster board signs, my pleas spelled out in Crayola marker  my youngest hop the picket fence that sequester those with common sense from  cold-blooded capitalists who  

pocket profits pillaged from my planet  

the tenor of their tired protests leave them with no choice but to accept their two cents 

every mother dreams of becoming an everlasting flame 

stoked by the kindling of her children’s dreams and scattered seeds 

I know you won’t  

Please don’t  

leave my flame to burn 

in hell.

*Saccharine: something excessively sweet or sentimental 

✝Senescence: gradual deterioration of functional characteristic

Carbon footprint: the total amount of greenhouse gasses generated by our actions 

Amazon fires: Devastating fires that sweep the Amazon Rainforest. These fires destroy habitats, displace animals and continue to increase in number and intensity yearly.

Oil spills: often caused by human error or broken equipment, oil spills leave catastrophic environmental impacts, including the destruction of fur-bearing mammals’ insulating ability, such as sea otters, and the water repellency of a bird’s feathers. Oil spills disrupt pH levels in the ocean and pollute both the surrounding waters and air.  

Elizabeth Shvarts is an 16-year old NYC artist, advocate, and entrepreneur who uses storytelling as a creative platform to amplify the causes that fuel her drive, Ever since she became a Climate Speaks finalist, Elizabeth realized the intersection of social justice with climate justice, and her concern is fueled not in hopelessness but the desire for change. She wrote “Mother (Nature) to Child” to humanize the climate crisis as a mother pleading with her children (humanity) to reckon with their actions while empowering readers, especially youth, to take climate action and preserve the beauty of tomorrow.

Lay Len Ching, from New York City, was introduced to XR after the climate protests in September 2019. After the protests, she felt uplifted to find a community that was fighting for what she believed, but was disheartened by the lack of action from politicians and people in who could truly make a difference. She is involved in local politics, where she has worked with various politicians in implementing climate change policies. Her photography focuses on real world problems and showcases the passion of those willing to solve them.

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