So, it happened! It happened all across the UK. And in Manchester it was (far) bigger, noisier and far more FUN than anyone expected it would be. There were hundreds (perhaps a thousand?) congregated in St Peters Square.
Dozens of young people getting the chance to do some public speaking. This speech, from Emma Greenwood, was really good (as were many others!). [See bottom of this post for transcript]
There was singing. There were hand prints.
There were many parents supporting their children. There were old and new adult climate activists looking on.
Meanwhile, of course, Teresa May was, well, Teresa May. Quelle surprise.
Beyond “bravo” to all those who participated (and to whoever came up with “I’ll do my A-levels if you do something about sea-levels”, I want to simply say this:
I suspect there’s a lot of fear, underneath the hope and the energy. It’s great that the youth are out, that they’re saying what many of them have no doubt been thinking for years – you really cannot trust the adults. That fear needs to be shared, and people need to support each other with it, perhaps through it.
My fears and doubts are these (and I’ve got something coming out somewhere that gets more traffic than this – I’ll back link when it does).
- What happens after the bigger (?) strike on Friday 15 March? Will there be (god I hope not) the call for a “Youth Climate March” in London.
- Will charismatic youthful “leaders” be thrown up by the NGOs, the media, and the focus turn to them, with the false message that only if we have leaders can we have success (Noam Chomsky on this –
The way things change is because lots of people are working all the time, and they’re working in their communities or their workplace or wherever they happen to be, and they’re building up the basis for popular movements. In the history books, there’s a couple of leaders, you know, George Washington or Martin Luther King, or whatever, and I don’t want to say that those people are unimportant. Martin Luther King was certainly important, but he was not the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King can appear in the history books ‘cause lots of people whose names you will never know, and whose names are all forgotten and who may have been killed and so on were working down in the South.
- Will the big NGOs try to capture (in every sense) the narrative? Probably/certainly. There will be ‘youth ambassadors’ etc etc. But those NGOs have, mostly, been part of the problem.
- Crucially – and I have no answers to this, or none that I think is compelling – how might parents, and would-be allies – help the youth go through the learning curve faster than has happened in previous times. Do “we” actually have anything useful to offer? And if we do, how to offer it in ways likely to help rather than irritate? (I call this the POG problem – for “Piss off Grandpa/Grandma”).
PS Thanks to Emma Greenwood for permission to use her clip, and for posting it on Youtube. Here is the transcript –
We are here today to make a statement to those in power saying we want a future and that the protection of our plant needs to stop coming second place. So far, the government have been words over actions and that has to change. Change is no longer an option it is an obligation. No longer shall the government be able to ignore our demand to a safe and clean future.
Sea levels are rising at their fastest rate in 2,000 years, our oceans are 26% more acidic than at the start of the industrial revolution and there are more green houses gases in the atmosphere than ever before. This is no longer a what if scenario, it is a when scenario.
We need to stop allowing companies to put profit in front of protection and preservation. The attitude can no longer be ‘you can’, it needs to become ‘you must’. You have the power to demand the change you want to see and hold companies responsible for their actions.
When we start to change our thoughts and the way we live, we can change the world. As Nelson Mandela said “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming but vision with action can change the world”. And that is what we are doing here today.
Who ever you are, where ever you are, you have the power to be the change you want to see in the world. To everyone hearing this, this strike is a message from all young people saying “We want a future”.