Why We Can’t Be Silent

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by Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

During the past week, the Sierra Club has spoken out about Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York City, and President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Some have told us that they consider these to be “non-environmental” issues. Here are some quick thoughts on why these issues are so important to address. I’ll share more later this week.

The Sierra Club believes that all people deserve a healthy planet with clean air and water and a stable climate. All people also deserve equal protection under the law and the right to live their lives free of discrimination and hatred. These issues are not separate. Indeed, we believe that working toward a just, equitable, and transparent society is not only morally necessary but also exactly what we need to confront the unprecedented environmental challenges we face.

Injustices in our political system and in our culture empower polluters and lead to the destruction of our most cherished places. Those same injustices often breed hatred, sow division among us, and threaten our health and safety. The Sierra Club’s mission is to “enlist humanity” to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. That mission, which applies to everyone, cannot be achieved when people’s rights are being violated and their safety and dignity are being threatened on a routine basis. This must stop.

That is why we must speak out on these issues. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Cross posted from Coming Clean, The Blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

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