Fighting for Now
Is Each Other
Beacon Press, 2015. $24.95, 256 pages.
The fronT lines of the fight to stop
climate change are the front lines of the
struggle for economic justice, racial equality, and livable communities. The people
fighting the climate fight
aren’t just trying to save future
generations: they’re fighting
to save us, and they’re fighting to save themselves.
Or so Wen Stephenson
writes in What We’re Fighting
for Now Is Each Other: Dis-patches from the Front Lines
of Climate Justice, a book that
is simultaneously a spiritual
memoir, a call to join in on the action,
and a treatise of what it means to be “
radical” in the face of a crisis that is apocalyptic in scope.
It’s a terrifying, despairing, and heart-wrenching read. But it’s also pragmatic,
and most of all hopeful: a celebration of the
human spirit, of community and resilience.
Fossil fuel companies didn’t set out to
destroy the world, Stephenson writes, not-
ing that, “It’s an incredible accident of his-
tory that we ended up in this fix.”
And yet, the world is warming, the seas
are rising, and species are dying o= at an
alarming rate. Today, petrochemical corpo-
rations understand the science completely.
As do our governments, and still inaction
So, what do we do?
“The movements that change the world
are moral struggles—and spiritual ones,”
Stephenson writes in the early pages of his
book, which begins with an exploration of
the spiritual elements of social justice activism. It’s the book’s most unwieldy part,
with pages that could be paragraphs and
paragraphs that could be sentences, but it’s worth reading
through to get to the second
half, which is the strongest.
Stephenson travels around
the country, meeting activists
working to stop mountaintop
removal, LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports, and the Keystone XL pipeline. He talks
to those working at the intersections of climate, racial, and economic
justice, including clergy, former members
of Occupy Wall Street, and a prominent
member of the NAACP. The most powerful, vulnerable, and human moments
emerge from those conversations.
What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other
grapples with big questions. How do you
build community? What is the appropriate response to a crisis of this magnitude?
What’s worth sacrificing? Each activist has a
slightly di=erent answer, but together their
stories start to weave a picture.
“There is no comfort in the whirlwind,”
Stephenson writes, but there is comfort in
It’s a di;cult but worthwhile read. At
its heart, this book is about a transformative social movement that is desperately
needed and might just already be here.
— Caroline Selle
Graywolf Press, 2015. $16, 384 pages.
on his deaThbed in 1087, Guillaume
le Bâtard, better known as William the
Conqueror, recognized that he had “
persecuted the natives of England beyond all
reason.” After defeating King Harold in
the Battle of Hastings, William and his
invaders faced nearly a decade of rebellions, which they tackled ruthlessly by the
violent confiscation of lands, the establishment of a military elite, and the assumption of all domains of power by Norman
French. It was a cataclysmic event for the
natives of England, weakening or otherwise obliterating the distinct culture of the
Paul Kingsnorth’s impressive first
novel, The Wake, lands us in the midst of