COP24 Metaphors: Children Playing Hide and Seek and King’s College Boys Choir

COP24 Metaphors: Children Playing Hide and Seek and King’s College Boys Choir December 15, 2018
A world globe looks like it's being held precariously by two hands. The scene is formed by words relating to the issue of climate change with the heading COP24.
Fear and hope surround the final days of the COP24 meetings on climate change. Will the world’s nations drop the ball?

Advent is a season of waiting, and I have been awaiting the conclusion of the COP24 meetings in Poland as I haven’t waited for anything since the 2015 Paris climate meetings. Then, while waiting, I rewrote the lyrics of an old song. Today, with the meetings dragging on and my posting a day later than usual, a couple metaphors describe the various participants for me.

COP24 is the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change. It’s the most important climate meeting since that gathering in 2015. It aims to make the Paris agreement workable. It would “establish rules, figure out financing and build ways to verify that nations are meeting their commitments.” (CNN)

Children playing Hide and Seek

Jesus comes whether we’ve practiced Advent or not. And global warming comes whether we are ready or not. It’s tempting to think of some of the participants at COP24, especially the United States, as playing a child’s game.

Siblings, friends, and I used to play Hide and Seek. If you were It, you closed your eyes and counted by 5’s to 100. (You could have counted by 1’s to 20, but “5…10…15…20…” sings better.) When you got to 100, you shouted,

Here I come, ready or not!

It never was a question, actually a warning; but the rest of us treated it like a question. So when we weren’t ready, we would shout back,

Not ready!

And you’d count again. And again, until you had enough of counting and came for us “ready or not.”

My country, of all the countries in the world the most responsible for global warming, has been playing exactly like that. Unfortunately climate hasn’t stopped changing and isn’t going to count over just because we shout “Not ready!” Forty years ago we knew that global warming was coming. Now it’s here, and we’re not ready.

The boys choir at King’s College Cambridge

One of the inspirational Advent traditions is the ushering in of Christmas with the Festival of Lessons and Carols at King’s College Cambridge. This year it provides me with a metaphor that describes some countries at COP24, especially the poorest, least responsible for global warming, and most threatened by it.

Each year the service at King’s College begins the same way. A single boy’s voice, clear and strong, soars through the cathedral where the worshipers have gathered: “Mary was that mother mild. Jesus Christ her little child.”

What I just learned about the choir comes from a Christmas appeal from “Friends of San Lucas.” San Lucas is the “sister diocese” of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, where I live. Quoting now,

The performance is even more remarkable because of the way it unfolds. Right before the broadcast begins, the 16 boys in the choir, ages 9-13, gather around the conductor. A red light flashes, indicating 10 seconds until the broadcast begins, and the conductor points to one of the boys. The chosen boy steps up to the microphone and begins singing, to over 10 million people around the world. No one in the choir knows who will be selected. Everyone must be ready.

Like those 16 boys, some of the world’s almost 200 countries are trying to be ready. Global warming is coming “ready or not.”

COP24, Paris, and My “Strangest Dream”

It was during a drive home on a December evening in the year 2015 that the radio issued a news report on the Paris Climate Change meetings. The week of meetings was nearing its end, and the issue still was in doubt. Somehow the song “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” started in my brain. It’s an anti-war song written by Ed McCurdy in 1950. I knew it from the 1960’s. But the words were changing. The song became a dream of worldwide commitment to address the causes of global warming, a dream that miraculously came true.

That was three years ago. This year with COP24 that commitment is being tested. The United States had been a leader in 2015. Now, with science denial and either a child or an infant, psychologically, in the White House, the U.S. obstructs rather than leads. I fear, as much as hope for, the result.

My “strangest dream” may be slipping from our collective grasp, but I still cling to the hope.  Here is a recording of the original anti-war song, and below are my lyrics from three years ago.

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

  • Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before.
  • I dreamed the world had all agreed to poison the air no more.
  • I dreamed I saw a mighty room all filled with women and men,
  • And the paper they were signing said they never pollute again.
  • And when the paper was all signed and a million copies made,
  • They all joined hands and circled round, and grateful prayers they prayed.
  • And the people on the streets below were dancing round and round,
  • With coal and oil and natural gas all safely under the ground.
  • Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before.
  • I dreamed the world had all agreed to poison the air no more.

Image credit: Red, Green, and Blue via Google Images

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