I have never been to a strike before, nothing has really aligned completely with my values or beliefs in order for me to want to join a strike. Or perhaps I haven’t researched enough strikes in my area to know which ones to join. Regardless, this is different. The climate; our planet; our home. There is nothing that means more to me than learning about, preserving and spreading awareness of this earth and its inhabitants. It is clear that our world is suffering from a severely damaging and entirely man-made problem. The root of this problem stems from ignorance, over-population, apathy, greed, corruption, self-entitlement and abuse of power. I’m sure many more cultural, religious and societal based issues are also negatively effecting our world, but in summary, something needs to change.
In August 2018, Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old school student, sat alone outside the Swedish Parliament with a sign that read, ‘School Strike For The Climate’. Since then, Greta has been on strike every Friday, with a simple demand for climate action by the government. On some days, people would join her; others would ask why she wasn’t in school; some would belittle her or even bully her for having autism. But, there was those who would stand with her in support and unison. This movement quickly gathered momentum, and now, Greta has become one of the youngest climate activists on our planet. She gives cut-throat, empathetic, emotional speeches all over the world, all the time calling out the hypocrisy and lies from those in power. Although, I am almost positive that you don’t need me to tell you who she is. Greta has sparked a fire underneath us all.
On Friday 20th September 2019, the world woke up to biggest strike for the climate that has ever been seen. Students, workers, party members, teachers, pensioners, celebrities, mums, dads, grandparents; all of us came together for the first time to make a clear stand for climate action. I woke up to the news of hundreds of thousands of people in Australia striking all day, and saw pictures from my friends at these events. Suddenly, the opposite side of the planet didn’t seem so far away anymore. I grew apprehensive, hopeful that there’d be a good turnout in my own city. But, I quickly realised that numbers didn’t matter; our message did. As long as we have a voice to speak, or hands to sign, or fingers to type, then we can carry our messages out to the world.
What I was completely unprepared for however, was the sheer emotion that I would feel upon listening to other people share their passions all day. I felt so much pride and respect towards all of the young people who took to the mic and talked about their own message. It was amazing to witness our discrimination gone and our hearts open. It was the first time I’ve seen people of all backgrounds, religions, ages, races and education come together to bridge the gap that has been driven between our species by politicians and plotters throughout our entire existence.
I honestly felt so emotional and overwhelmed to see such an act of unity and couldn’t stop my tears from coming towards the end of the day. For all of my life, I have been incredibly privileged. I have always lived in the countryside, sheltered from concrete and man-made things. As I grew up, I have read, seen, listened to and experienced discrimination everywhere. I have witnessed so much hatred and anger that I honestly felt like humanity would never come together. But, this strike took on every single angle I could think of, the only message was to unite; to be stronger, together.
A couple of things I heard really stuck with me. One was, and I will paraphrase as I cannot remember it word-for-word, “climate change does not respect or acknowledge borders, once one of us is affected, all of us are effected.” The other was from an 87 year old religious man who stood up for a spontaneous speech after listening to one of the speakers passionate speech, “I am sorry for what my generation has caused, it is our fault. Some people may think that we don’t listen in the church, but I can assure you, we are listening.” This was when I started to cry.
Honestly, I agree with Greta wholeheartedly; it is disgusting that her generation are the ones that are having to lead everyone else by example. It is heart-wrenching that these young climate activists cannot have a normal childhood, and that young people all over the world are worrying about the possibility of their lives being cut short due to the actions of the older generation. It is so saddening that we have inflicted all of this pain upon ourselves, and for the sake of what? Money can only buy so much, and it seems that the more people have, the less they value it. It’s time for us to put aside our differences and protect something that is truly worth protecting. Live with love in your heart; spread kindness wherever you go; please don’t be afraid to feel.
To leave you with more words from Greta,
“The world is waking up. Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”