The Power of Five
Five kids with five pens and five pieces of paper sat at one table at one Unitarian Universalist church and wrote five letters to their congressional representatives. The young people at First Unitarian Church of San Jose (FUCSJ) expressed their fears about climate change and asked their elected leaders to use their power to do something about it.
That same Sunday, one 11-year old and one mom rode bikes to the mailbox and sent the letters.
Kids are worried. “I am one of the millions, even billions concerned about climate change,” writes one. “If you could make this a priority, I would sleep more comfortably in my bed,” writes another.
Kids have compelling arguments to show the urgency they see: “It seems like this country is concentrating on wars. If we do not concentrate on global warming there will not be ground to fight wars on,” writes an eighth grader.
They understand it. “The rim fire in Yosemite was one of the biggest in our state history,” writes one. “Plants and animals have been going extinct,” acknowledges a 13-year-old.
Children already know what has to change: “We need to tax carbon emissions.” And they know that the adults are the ones who need to take charge. “I’m writing because I want you to use your power as a representative to start making changes in our laws affecting the issue of global warming.”
Follow the Leaders
Three short weeks later, it was time to follow the leaders. These five letter-writing youth headlined at the FUCSJ service on Sunday, October 6, when Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones invited them to read their climate change letters to the congregation. There was a “Silent Spring” sensation as they shared their fears, knowledge about the issue, and demands for legislative leadership. These twelve- and thirteen-year-olds then led a letter-writing campaign for the adults.
Standing Room Only
By 12:20pm, just five minutes after the service ended, it was standing room only at the Climate Change Letter-Writing Campaign.
The youth split jobs at the table: assembling a quick photo poster; handing out envelopes, stamps, and legislator’s addresses; acting as ambassadors by walking around at coffee hour inviting adults and other kids to write letters. But it didn’t take much convincing. Parishioners readily asked for a pen, paper, and a seat at the table.
And adults know the issues too. “Global warming and climate change is already adversely affecting agriculture in California,” writes one.
They too are concerned, “Global warming worries me. Not so much for me personally (I’m 96 years old), but for my children and their children and everyone’s future kids,” another stated.
And they too want to see their leaders take action. “We need a carbon tax. We need you to be a leader. We need you to be brave.”
When the table folded 40 minutes later, 33 adults and ten total children from FUCSJ had written letters to their congressional representatives bringing the letter pile to 43.
It’s Monday, and the letters are mailed. Our next step is to encourage other children and adults to write letters.
The junior high class at FUCSJ wants to spread the word to other congregations. What if these five kids inspire five more kids and five more adults to write letters to their representatives to ask them to do something about global warming? What if those fifteen people inspire another fifteen, and those thirty inspire another thirty, until the letters pile high on every representative’s desk?
What if every Unitarian Universalist congregation invited their children and adults to participate in this letter-writing campaign?
Please join this project. For more information, contact Jennifer Castro, member, First Unitarian Church of San Jose, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was written by Jennifer Castro, a member of the First UU Church of San Jose.