Here's the beginning of the talk our friend Wen Stephenson gave this morning at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, USA. Walden Pond is important, because the great philosopher Henry David Thoreau made it his home while he wrote the books that helped found what we now think of as the environmental movement:

I want to ask all of you, why are you here? I don’t mean why are you alive, here on this planet, at this moment in history – though that’s not a bad question. I mean why are you here, at Walden Pond, standing on this soggy ground, on this day, at this moment? This moment: as the earth’s climate is rapidly warming, due largely to humanity’s burning of fossil fuels, with all that that means for our world, human and wild. Why are you here, at this moment.

“Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present…. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard within our horizon, it is belated. … There is something suggested by it that is a newer testament,—the gospel according to this moment.”

That’s from the great essay “Walking,” written by a certain native of Concord. So, yes – in case you were wondering! – I’m here, in this place, at this moment, not only because of climate change but because a young man named Henry Thoreau – I can call him Henry, right? He’s our neighbor, he must have tramped through half our back yards in all his walks! – I’m here because that young man named Henry Thoreau built himself a small cabin on Emerson’s woodlot, about a half-mile from where we stand, just over there on the opposite shore. And because this young man, Henry Thoreau, put words on paper that are still ringing in our ears. Like those I just read. And like these from “Civil Disobedience”:

“Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary.”

Action from principle … is essentially revolutionary.

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