Some thoughts from CDC core team member Tim DeChristopher in response to the recent self-immolation of climate activist Wynn Bruce.
The philosophy of nonviolence is grounded on an understanding that all beings are deeply interconnected into a web of life, so harm to one is a harm to all and to the larger whole. As part of our great work of social and spiritual transformation, we have to grow our awareness that each one of us, ourselves, is part of this larger whole. As such, it must be emphasized that nonviolence encompasses self-care, and harming one’s self is violence. If nonviolence means anything, we must be able to unequivocally state that burning a human being to death is wrong. It is still wrong when that human being is oneself.
As a climate movement, we need everyone at their fullest and healthiest. Even in small ways, refusing to take care of one’s own needs and health is rarely an act of genuine compassion for the larger group. While we may need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to harm or risk being harmed, to actively cause harm, even against yourself, is to push on the wrong side of the moral scale. As every one of us is an expression of an infinite potential of love, the irreversible action of taking one’s own life deprives the world of limitless possibilities. We can never be certain about the impact of our actions on the world, so we must have the humility to act with uncertainty, inclined toward learning. Our job is to keep showing up for one another with our whole selves. Our job is to keep showing up for one another with love. It may not be our job to know exactly why or how our presence is so important. But our job is to keep showing up.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.