Washington, DC, December 8, 2014 — Representatives from the Christian, Baha’i, Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths sent a strong message to President Obama at the White House and UN representatives currently gathered in Lima, Peru, for talks to negotiate a global treaty on climate change. This treaty is to be signed by heads of state in Paris in December 2015. In a cold freezing evening, the faith leaders sang, prayed and joined hands in solidarity for environmental action and climate justice. The event was named “Light for Lima,” which references the UN climate change talks in Lima, Peru.
EcoSikh President, Dr. Rajwant Singh spoke at the event and led participants in singing. “There is overwhelming evidence that 2014 will go on record as the hottest year on record and that this trend will not reverse itself without urgent and immediate action,” said Dr. Singh. “Representatives from nations gathered in Lima negotiating a global treaty on climate change have the responsibility towards all future generations. Their decisions will affect the entire world, so it is necessary for all communities, especially faith communities to send a strong message,” he continued.
Solar powered lamps, which were provided by the event’s organizers, the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) and OurVoice.net, brought light to the event. According to OurVoices.net, “for each lamp used in the vigils, two lamps will be delivered to African rural communities by SolarAid, enabling children to study and read after dark. The solar lamps will replace kerosene lanterns that fill poor households with noxious fumes, leading to thousands of deaths annually.”
Music was provided by Jacob Crouse, who sang renditions of famous songs that were adapted to the evening’s message. Other speakers included Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, Jamie Konopacky of the Baha’is of the United States, and the coordinator Patrick Carolan of the Franciscan Action Network, among others.
The event, which was held in front of the White House, is one of several held in major cities across the world, including London, Jerusalem, Tokyo, and Sydney and one of many held in the United States. Other countries leading vigils included Nigeria, Italy, Germany, France, China, Cambodia and Bangladesh.
“The Light for Lima solar-power vigil brought together people of various faiths to send a strong message to the United Nations,” said EcoSikh Program Manager Sumeet Kaur. “UN representatives have the ability to set the course of global climate action and the faithful people here today have had a hand in shaping that course. We hope the interfaith togetherness that was present at this event will inspire greater collaboration among UN members to stand up for the future of this earth,” Kaur continued.
Sirmukh Singh Manku and Arvinder Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation also joined the gathering. EcoSikh presented the Sikh prayer by Guru Nanak ‘Bholia Haumai Surat Visaar.’ In this hymn, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh faith, exhorts humans to rise above personal greed and selfish interests and to become a benevolent person. He asks humans to be inspired by nature and to become like a tree whose leaves represent a deeper connection with God, whose trunk represents good action, whose fruit represents divine wisdom. This tree will provide shade to others and will remain evergreen forever.