Words by Lydia, 24 VIC
“We live in a strange world, where children must sacrifice their own education in order to protest against the destruction of their future”Greta Thunberg, 2019
Many will have heard by now of the 16-year-old Swedish girl changing the world to save it. Every day she is attacked or slandered because her words are hitting hard, they’re working. But what world have we created that attacks a young girl saving the world because her words scare us?
She stands in front of our world leaders, those who claim to represent us and tells them that they need to do their jobs. She has more courage than 16-year old me could ever muster. When did the responsibility of ensuring humanity’s survival fall to young people? It is not their job. It is the responsibility of our political leaders to ensure our society is healthy, happy, and sustainable. It is literally their job.
And yet, I am not represented.
I am not heard.
And I AM scared.
My government doesn’t care that I am afraid. It doesn’t care that it is condemning whole nations of people to preventable deaths, as highlighted by the inaction at the recent Pacific Islands Forum. The world watches as Australia ignores our commitment to the 2018 Paris Agreement, to the earth, and to ourselves. I am ashamed of our government, I am ashamed of decisions that have been made by those who have gone before us, but I am proud of those of us trying to make it right.
Our younger generations are experiencing an entirely new type of collective fear, one dubbed ‘eco-anxiety’. While I have felt it grow within me over the years, I did not realise how deeply others were touched by its icy sting as well. I see it in the children I work with, the friends I have, the customers I serve; the awkward laughter about ‘prepping for doomsday’, their dismay about the lack of support for our farmers, and the upcoming bush-fire season. Their growing concern over the weather continues to mount.
The other night at the dinner table, my roommate said to me: “Is it weird that I feel like I need to prepare? Like: I really need to learn how to spin yarn, you know? Just in case.”
And it threw me.
I am feeling the exact same.
Every night before bed I look at Pinterest, once filled with recipes and fun crafts, instead now I learn 50 ways to preserve foods, living zero-waste, fantasizing about ‘living-off-the-grid’ and permaculture when I only live in a small unit with no yard. I justify my actions financially: “Well it makes sense; the more sustainable my life the less money I waste, and the more I save. It’s being fiscally responsible…” and while all true, it’s also because I want to be ready if the time comes and we have failed.
But there is still time to turn this around. We all live on this planet and have a part to play in keeping it alive. Sometimes it’s easy to feel helpless; perhaps you can’t afford to change your lifestyle to an eco-friendly alternative, or you need to work during the strikes. No one should ever make you feel bad for only doing what you can do. But keep trying in whatever way you can: recycle that cardboard box, pick up that bit of rubbish, and most importantly have these conversations with anybody and everybody!
Our voice is the most valuable tool for initiating change. Thunberg has proven this time and time again with her speeches. It is time to use our voices in conversations, and in unison. It might not change everyone’s minds but even if it gets one more person thinking and acting it is far better than the alternative.
Even if it falls on deaf ears, I will keep having these conversations. And even if I am just one more face in the crowd, I will continue going to these strikes and rallies. In 30 years when it no longer matters either way I can say:
“I was where I should have been: the right side of history.”
What about you?