Respecting Boundary: a Gesture for Climate Justice

A reflection on Creation Psalm :104

Introduction:  Climate Justice is a subject matter that is discussed and studied from various perspectives and angles with basic understanding that connects Human Rights, the rights of the Subaltern people and Eco-justice. To reflect on our title “Respecting Boundary: a Gesture for Climate Justice” from a biblical text, I have selected Psalm 104 which is a beautiful hymn of Creation and Restoration. Here the psalmist brilliantly sang how God assigns boundaries for all creations with the liberty to exercise their own rhythm of life within their own space and time. 

This hymn of Psalm brings out significant issues for our understanding of what could be considered as the foundation of Climate Justice, which can be highlighted in few points as follows:-

1.      The creative providence of space for all creations: The psalm beautifully brought out how the mountains, the seas, the clouds, the rain, the thunder and lightning, the beasts, the monsters, the birds, the trees, the grass, and every living and non-living creatures along with human beings co-exist without clashing.  

2.      All Creations enjoying their freedom within their rhythm of life: All creations have their freedom to enjoy their shades of life with whatever temperament and spirituality they are adorned with.  

3.      Maintaining their own time and space without encroaching other’s sovereignty: The creations maintained their own time and space as Creator God assigned for each of them. The wild beasts maintain their time for hunting so that human beings will have their space to exercise their sovereignty without encroaching other’s domain.     

4.      Respecting other’s entity and identity for the dignity of all creations: Each and every creation respects others while recognizing others with having their distinct entity and identity. 

From the above points we may derive that it is necessary to have a crystal clear ambiance, the transparent atmosphere with the serene and nonviolent environment to have Climate Justice, as celebrated in this hymn of creation and restoration. There are times when chaos appeared but justice is restored with creations maintaining the intrinsic value of their time and space, the rhythm of life, and respecting others’ entity and identity as they respect each other’s boundaries. 

But when the rhythm of Life is curtailed and where the spirituality of the creation is brushed aside then the whole ecological balance is at stake …  reflecting it from the real-life story of the Dongria Kondh Tribe of Odisha State in India

The Dongria Kondh Tribal people of the Kalahandi district in Orissa are vehemently resisting the London-based Vedanta Alumina Limited’s attempt to mine Bauxite on top of their Holy Hills of Niyamgiri in Lanjigarh, Kalahandi district in Orissa. For more than a decade, the 8,000-plus Dongria Kondh lived under the threat of mining by Vedanta Resources, which hoped to extract the estimated $2 billion-worth of bauxite that lies beneath the surface of the hills.The community strongly protest to protect their land, their living mountain, their forest, birds, and animals from destruction, which is considered to be their “Living Goddess” because this mountain supplies food, air, and water for their living. Here in the Niyamgiri, the Vedanta Company is downplaying the ecological conscience of the Kondhs tribe. While the people in this mountain is crying for the protection of their plants, animals, trees, rivers, and their gods and goddesses, the Vedanta people continue to show their high handedness by brushing aside the ethos, sentiment, and spirituality of the Khond people. The Vedanta Company is buying a few people with material gains and promising them jobs opportunity while making them blind to see the vast injustice on Climate that would affect the whole community of human beings and eco-systems. Though the Government is giving a stay order to Vedanta as of today, and the major shareholders in this company including the Anglican Church, England had pulled out their shares, television advertisements were pulled out, yet the issue is not resolved. The eco-balanced had been lost, the life-threatening danger for health hazard, damaged to the agricultural fertile land cannot be restored, and the demoralization and traumatization of the people continue to loom large till date. 

Anyone who had ever watched a movie called “Avatar”, a 2009 American epic science fiction film directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron will understand that the situation in this Niyamgiri Hills is a real live Avatar, not just science fiction for the Dongria Kondh community to this day.  I had visited this place in 2010 and seen the whole exploitation of the Dongria Khond tribe in this area and the way the Vedanta Alumina Company are showing their muscle powers.

When violence is meted out against God’s beautiful creations and people, nature cried out, the whole cosmos has trembled with fear and anger. At this juncture where do we look for Justice? What kind of Justice are we seeking? If only we human beings respect our boundaries as well as others’ that God had created for each and everyone irrespective of who and what we are and where we belong, can then only justice be found for the whole cosmos and the people.

Many of the Dongria Kondh people believe in Jesus Christ. Our challenge for the Bible lovers today is, this community does not have Bible in their own heart language till today! May God heal and restore this land and the people, so that they may be able to join the Psalmist singing, “Bless the Lord oh My Soul”. Amen.

The Dongria Kondh girl with her beautiful attire and the Holy Hills of Niyamgiri

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