Working towards peace and sustainability

Count it All Joy!

Note the following is a personal message from Peaceworks Director Mark Haim

We rally. We march. We walk. We vigil. We demonstrate. We cry out and often it seems no one is listening.

We grieve. We see the violence; the injustice; the fires; the floods; the dislocation; the extinctions; and we cry out, even when it seems our voices have been silenced. As Dylan put it 60 years ago, “I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken”

Truth be told, while our situation is likely worse than many think, our power to make change is far greater than most of us realize. Those who profit from business as usual remain in charge as long as they can keep most of us distracted, divided, disempowered.

My first march or large demonstration was an anti-war gathering that took place in New York City. On April 15, 1967, 400,000 of us gathered in Central Park and marched to the United Nations (see picture below). I was a senior in high school. While I’d already joined picket lines on a few occasions, this was something new and very different.

We were a generation coming of age. We sought a just, peaceful, caring future, but were being handed instead, as Dr. King put it, “a bad check,” and for many of us, along with it, a draft notice. We or our peers were being sent off to the jungles of Southeast Asia, to risk their own lives, to destroy the lives of millions who meant us no harm.

For those of us who were becoming aware of the insanity of the system, gatherings such as this, organized by the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade, gave us a powerful shot of solidarity. Although millions were still going ’round with blinders on—oblivious—there was a culture of resistance growing. We were something new, saying “no” to the system and pressing forward, insisting on peace, justice and a livable future.


“Mark,” you might say, “What’s this got to do with our present situation? It’s 2023, not 1967. What’s this go to do with our current predicament?” My answer is, “Plenty!”

As we prepare to Rally and Walk for the Climate, we are approaching the end of the hottest summer on record. All around the world, humanity is living through unprecedented numbers of extreme weather events. This is truly a Climate Emergency but, the politicians, who could address the crisis, fiddle while the planet burns. And it’s the fossil fuel industry that calls the tunes they play.

Millions of us, young and old recognize the urgent need for action, but, again, the sense of disempowerment holds many of us back. And the doubts many feel as to the value of joining a rally or a climate walk, become self-fulfilling prophecy. Expecting no good to come of it, many feel “why bother?” and when our numbers are small, our impact is less than we hoped and this leads, in turn, to fewer participating.

The reverse, however, is also possible. If even a tiny fraction of those concerned about the climate join in an event like this, the impact will be significant. And, small successes create a sense of empowerment that allows us to leverage even greater successes moving forward.

Why can’t CoMo have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030? Why not a requirement that all rental properties meet minimum efficiency standards? Shouldn’t we have curbside recycling pick-up back? What about a no-idling ordinance? Fair electric and water rates? The list goes on and getting action on the municipal level is just the tip of the iceberg.

Just as I discovered, some 56 years ago, demonstrations, marches and the like not only hold the potential to create the pressure to enact policies (and ultimately created a climate in which Nixon had to end the war), they also build a shared sense of movement. We are, indeed, a movement for survival; a movement for climate justice; a movement that understands the interconnectedness of climate action and peace action and action for social, racial and economic justice; a movement that unites and empowers us.

And, again, as I discovered, there is joy in this solidarity. It feels good. Sharing the company of dozens, if not hundreds of caring, likeminded people lifts us up. So, bring a friend, a lover, a parent, a child, a neighbor, a co-worker, a fellow student, a member of your house of worship—all are welcome and, if you have no one to come with, bring yourself and meet some wonderful folks when you arrive. Join in the welcoming embrace of some of the nicest people in our community. And, as the singer-songwriter Charlie King puts it, “Count it All Joy!”

Charlie wrote:

“I’d like to sing a song tonight for those with unsung names,
Who face with common decency a world gone insane.
You may think you’re living thankless lives,
But you’re the reason we’re survivin’
So, count it all joy all the same.”

Note: The Walk for the Climate will be held Sunday, Sept. 10. We gather between 1-1:30 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza, 8th & Walnut in downtown CoMo. After a short rally, our 5K walk begins at 2 p.m. Join us for whatever portion of the event you can.