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Charlotte Couple Starts 1,400 Mile Quest to Save the World

CHARLOTTE On Friday, Nov. 2, Louis Cox and Ruah Swennerfelt took the first steps on a 1,400 mile journey from Vancouver to San Diego to save the world from the global climate change crisisa trek they have named the Peace for Earth Walk: Rediscovering John Woolmans Message for the 21st Century. The Charlotte couple, themselves members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), intends to visit over fifty Quaker meetings along the way, in addition to other religious and civic groups, to share their vision of living in right relationship with the eartha concept rooted in care for the earth that they feel will lead to a more just, equitable and peaceful world. This idea of living in right relationship with all creation stems from the influence of John Woolman, an 18th-Century Quaker who traveled the United States protesting the ills of slavery and encouraging Quakers to reconsider their ownership of other human beings. Woolman observed, however, that the injustice of slavery was merely a symptom arising from the virus of over-consumption and Americans strong desire for lives of ease and luxurya virus so potent that it drove people to enslave millions upon millions of other human beings. Ruah and Louis believe that the oncoming catastrophe of global climate change is similarly rooted in the developed worldsand particularly the United Statesinsistence on lives of ease and luxury. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they believe, are but the latest manifestation of the United States need to control more than its fair share of the worlds resources to ensure lives of limitless consumption for its citizens. As the drive for resource control threatens millions of innocent civilians who are caught in the middle of these wars, and also threatens all life through global climate change, Ruah and Louis feel that something must be donenowto shift the trajectory of Americas resource consumption and the system of domination that subjugates poorer countries to the will of wealthy nations. Anyone who truly understands what is going on in the world today cant go on with business as usual, said Mr. Cox. We have to change our lives. Ruah and Louis expect to be accompanied on portions of their hike by fellow Quakers and other citizens who share their concerns for life as we know it. I think the fact that there are people who are excited to walk with us part of the way shows that there is something exciting happening here, said Ms. Swennerfelt. They are saying, We care about the planet and we want people to wake up and make changes in their lives. The voyage is all the more remarkable considering that Ruah and Louis are both over 60 years old. We see that there is a crisis, said Ms. Swennerfelt. Otherwise we wouldnt be taking the risk of walking for six months with packs on our backs from meeting to meeting. But, we love this planet so completely that we would do anything necessary to save it for life as we know it. Not just for humans, but for the richness of all life here on the planet. Even though they are truly committed environmental advocatesliving in a solar-powered house completely detached from the electrical gridRuah and Louis acknowledge that they are not perfect examples of sustainable living. As such, the couple hopes the voyage will help them achieve a greater understanding of how they can live in more perfect harmony with the earth and the creatures of the world. Im really looking for transformation. Im hoping that the walk will help us clarify some our own decisions about what the best use of the worlds resources might be. Ruah and Louis have dedicated a great portion of their professional lives to Quaker Earthcare Witness, a non-profit organization headquartered in Charlotte with members around the world that seeks to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote sustainable living amongst Quakers. Asked why they chose the west coast for the venue of their journey, rather than walking down the east coast for instance, Ruah responded, We hadnt had a lot of contact with Western Quakers in our work. So were not only bringing John Woolmans message to them, but also the message of QEW. Louis hopes that this journey will draw considerable national and world-wide attention to the need to rapidly and drastically reconsider the way we as humans use the worlds resources, as well as how we view the connection between peace, justice and earthcare. If we start talking about true equality and justice, then the powers that be will be hot on our case, said Mr. Cox. But that is what has to happen. Were doing something that, if successful, cannot be ignored.

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