Indra Congress
Why use climate change as an umbrella theme for Indra. Jan 2020
April 21, 2020 By admin

The Art of Climate Conflict.  Jan 2020

Why use Climate Change as an umbrella theme for the Indra Congress?

Scientific evidence shows that the world is facing an unprecedented, human induced climate crisis, which could lead to staggering levels of suffering, loss of life and irreparable damage to the planet.  This is a reality accepted by all but a minority, some of whom are, unfortunately, in positions of great power.

It is understandable that many people living in settings of conflict, military occupation, poverty, austerity, and subject to racism and abuse of all kinds should say, ”I have my own immediate problems, thank you, never mind ‘saving the world’, what about me in the here and now?” Their right to say that is indisputable.  What we can do, though, is help ourselves and others to make connections, see the links, and share our insights and experiences. The climate crisis is not a separate, technocratic problem. It is inextricably linked with how we live our lives.

The extraction of fossil fuels by giant corporations which straddle the globe provides an example of how this works.  The process of digging up resources from the earth demands ‘sacrificial’ lands and people who are expendable in the pursuit of wealth and power. People are uprooted, land devastated, whether in the oil fields of the Niger Delta or the tar sands of Alberta and catastrophic levels of emissions are

released into the atmosphere. These resources often have an inconvenient habit of being on other people’s land, which leads to what Palestinian writer and academic Edward Said called ‘othering’, i.e. to justify these actions the ‘other’ has to be seen as inferior. A range of ‘ism’s’ then raise their ugly heads, resulting in profound abuse, prejudice and conflict.

Climate change will not be remedied with a puncture kit of clever, technical devices such as gigantic mirrors reflecting the sun’s heat. It must be seen as part of an interlinked tapestry of injustice, poverty, austerity, racism, colonialism and militarism.  Naomi Klein suggests: ‘Overcoming these disconnections, strengthening the threads tying together our various issues and movements is, I would argue, the most pressing task of anyone concerned with social and economic justice’.

The Indra Congress, inspired by the metaphor of Indra’s Net, provides a framework within which young people around the world can ‘strengthen the threads’, listen to and share their stories and experience, use the language of the arts to imagine alternatives, explore strategies for dealing with the present and make their own connections.  Young people can use the arts to help themselves and others see the world from a different perspective and challenge preconceptions and prejudice.

As one disadvantaged young woman from Lucknow, India said after one of our Congress events, ‘I feel stronger now, I am not alone.’   A message of hope.

Therefore the Indra directorate is proposing that the participants, live and virtual, to the Lucknow Congress in Autumn 2021 prepare to frame their presentations within an awareness of the global realities outlined above. Projects may be created across the network, through the pairing of groups or within a single group of young people. As ever, we do not seek to prescribe either content or art form for these projects. The proposal is made, instead, to offer coherence, focus and theme to work which will, no doubt, reflect, as in previous Congresses, the immediate, local priorities of young people. However, the organising of these projects within the concept of climate conflict may enable the global Indra movement to develop a significant profile as an NGO that uses the arts to offer creative, young-people driven responses to the planetary emergency.

David and Tim  Jan 2020