Rick Herbert (Strawberry Creek) and Quaker Earthcare Witness introduced Jose Aguto, Friends Committee on National Committee (FCNL) Legislative Secretary, Sustainable Energy and Environment Program, which seeks to contribute to the restoration of our shared Earth so that every person’s potential may be fulfilled in and through peace, equity and justice.
Currently, Jose is on the advisory committees of Citizens Climate Lobby and the Center for Earth Ethics. Prior to joining FCNL in February 2012, Jose worked for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) as the Policy Advisor tribal energy, environment, natural resource, and climate change issues. Prior to NCAI he worked to protect and advance tribal sovereignty over their lands, air and water as Senior Policy Advisor at EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office.
He has a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University, and a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.
Jose Aguto, asking permission to speak after the manner of the Tewa Pueblo, opened with the Holy Spirit prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created. R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth….”
FCNL’s focus is rightly the U.S. Congress, that is pivotal to addressing climate change. FCNL has issued a Call to Conscience on Climate Change:
To solve the problem of climate change, Congress must first acknowledge its existence and the human contribution to it. FCNL is helping legislators have candid, confidential conversations to find bipartisan leaders. Talking to members of Congress about climate change from a faith and moral perspective is a practical, political strategy to establish common ground.
FCNL has found Bill Moyer’s statement to still ring true, that the only antidote to organized money is organized people. Having the Pope on board and about to address the U.S. Congress is a great help in this work
What are values that inform this work? We need to courageously confront the sin of pride that politically blocks progress in facing climate change. The opposite of pride is humility: are we truly humble in confronting our own part in the fossil fuel. He read from Thomas Kelly’s Holy Obedience: “Humility does not rest, in final count, upon bafflement and discouragement and self-disgust at our shabby lives, a brow-beaten, dog-slinking attitude. It rests upon the disclosure of the consummate wonder of God, upon finding that only God counts, that all our own self-originated intentions are works of straw. And so in lowly humility we must stick close to the Root and count our own powers as nothing except as they are enslaved in His power.”
The program leads advocacy efforts that are morally based, multi-faith, non-partisan and grassroots inspired, recognizing that bridges must be built across the partisan divides about climate disruption, for meaningful solutions to flow. Our Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption – based on the premise that a problem cannot be solved unless first admitted – is focused on manifesting soon, an official bipartisan declaration in Congress that climate disruption is real and human-caused and requires action.
Jose noted that he is but a channel in working with Congress; constituents are the vital connection that gains him access and authority. Communicating often with your members of Congress and thanking them when they take a step forward are important steps.
50 Quaker and other delegations have met with moderate Republican members of Congress to get them to introduce and co-sponsor a Congressional resolution naming climate change as real and as needing Congressional action. In September 2014 Rep. Chris Smith (NY) introduced the resolution and wanted ten more Republicans to sign onto it. FCNL is working with the Senate for a companion resolution.
Jose Aguto exhorted us to join humbly in this work that seeks to restore the face of the earth.