Climate Ride reflection May18

By Tyler Goss

‘Is it worth it?’

If you, dear reader, are of the Anabaptist variety, you likely have a special place in your nonviolence-loving heart for any quote, scripture, or story that embraces the peacebuilding way of Jesus.

“Love your enemies” Oh, yes please!

Conscientious objection? Sign me up!

“No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” Slap that on some corrugated plastic, and make me a yard sign!

We love the nonviolent way of Christ because we love…love. It’s like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said (and don’t we love to quote him), “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” We embrace the nonviolent life of Christ because we are convinced that the best way to change others for the better is to invite them into a better way…a way rooted in love. 

As I have been gearing up for this Climate Ride, I find myself constantly wondering, “how are we, in all reality, actually doing any substantial good for the environment?” Sure this Climate Ride will promote pedal power, but what about all the fossil fuels used to make this trip possible? Plane rides out west, gas for the support vehicle, all the extra food we will be consuming. It still depends on fossil fuel. Then, on top of that, can we really expect lasting change to come from such short stays with various communities? Maybe we, the riders, are the ones who will be changed? But still, all this for a handful of environmentally-minded folks to become slightly more environmentally conscious? I find myself stuck on the same question that pesters me everytime I think about my choices in regards to climate change, “is anything I do even worth it?” 

Eat less meat, consume less single-use plastic, drive a hybrid vehicle.  Is it really worth it when really huge corporations need to change, the collective mindset of our nation needs to change, entire systems and societies need to change? 

As I pedal through Harrisonburg and the surrounding Shenandoah Valley during my training, I find myself growing more in love with this place I now call home. The bustling hum of a college town, the rhythmic trotting of the horse and buggies, and even the fresh scent of manure (I suppose one can learn to appreciate it). It is this growing love for the people and land that surrounds me that helps me reframe my question. Instead of asking, “is it even worth it?”, I am slowly learning to shift to a question of, “where does change begin?” 

For the way of Christ, we don’t strive to love our enemies because we think it will immediately give us the results we want. In all likelihood, I can turn my cheek all I want, and I will still get beaten up and abused over and over again. However, just like the nonviolent way of Christ, if we ever do want positive environmental change to take root, then it has to start from a place of love. We have to learn to love the land and people we call home. 

This bike ride, for me, is not about reducing my carbon footprint or even really about encouraging others to be more “green.” Instead, this Climate Ride is about falling in love with the land and people that make up this “home” of ours. Because, “is it worth it?” sounds like a question focused on results, when, in reality, it is a question lacking motivation. Once love is at our core, then the question of “is it worth it?” sounds rather silly. Of course it is! These are my people, my home, we are talking about. 

This trip is about reorienting myself toward the people and the land once more. This trip is about cultivating love.