Every so often a person steps up and stands for a cause so precious, with so much clarity, strength, and power, their voice cannot be denied. Among us is such a person in 17-year-old hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, an indigenous environmental activist, youth director of Earth Guardians, and international frontline warrior speaker for climate change awareness. In his 3 UN speeches, TED Talks, countless television appearances, and participation on Obama’s Youth Council, Xiuhtezcatl (“Shoe-tez-cat”) articulates how the climate change crisis is the defining issue of our time.
I chatted with him as he was preparing to fly to Germany for the Environmental Summit. We discussed how being raised in the Aztec tradition by his father and being a descendant of the original caretakers of the land, the sacred ways of his people live within him. The deep knowing that we are all indigenous to somewhere — the sacred Earth. We are nature — never separate.
Sunny Chayes for Whole Life Times: May I first share with you my deep gratitude for what you’ve chosen to do with your life and how beautifully you’ve shared your music, Aztec/Mexican wisdom, and sacred behavior to be such a glowing inspiration for so many.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Thank you. I really feel strongly that I am one of many voices. Across my travels I’ve engaged with so many impassioned of my generation speaking out. I’m doing what I do because I can’t stay silent when so much can be done at the same time our government chooses to do so little. The time has come to take action ourselves. Changing things in our homes, community, and going outward from there is the most sustainable way to shift into a friendly, healthy relationship with our Earth. As you know, I and 20 other plaintiffs are suing the Federal Government for violating our inalienable constitutional rights of life, liberty, and property, for failing to take action on climate change.
SC: I believe it takes courage to be the frontline warrior that you are.
XM: It takes courage to move out of ingrained ideologies for any of us. I’ve actually had my life threated by the fossil fuel industry, so courage can take many forms. I define courage as being able to look over circumstances we’re placed in and be able to fight to create the things we want. The biggest challenge we face is shifting humanity’s consciousness from not “saving the planet.” The planet doesn’t need saving. We do.
SC: You’re a powerful Myth Buster. Can you address another area of how shifting our modern worldview would allow a more sacred living behavior?
XM: The environmental movement can seem separate from the rest of the world. It’s connected to politics, to human rights, to race relations, food justice, and more. These are all very connected issues. The industries that play a part need to take responsibility, be accountable. Another shift is knowing that there is no longer a place for fossil fuels in this world. Also, young people should never have to be at the front lines of the problems that politicians and our leaders should be taking care of. I shouldn’t be, but hell yeah! I’m not gonna quit! Our generation has a big role to play in delivering a better world.
SC: I’m wildly hopeful about your vision. Can you share about the use of modern technology and the part it plays in the global picture?
XM: We can develop as a world with technology in business with corporate profit and accountability. We can live in balance with the world leaving future generations not only a very wealthy planet, a healthy Earth that can sustain itself and can thrive. It absolutely can be done with dedication and imagination. There’s a balance with the use of technology. With the development of entertainment and social media platforms, my generation is a little “plugged in” and not experiencing the beauty of nature with their place in it. Again, it’s the balance. The modern way combined with the ancient wisdom can, and will, bring something new … Live as if the future matters!
This article is a part of the Jan 17 - Dec 18 issue of Whole Life Times.