Today, [Friday, Sept. 20th] I took to the streets. Not just out of a huff or because I was thrown out of the house by G, the beloved. No! I took to the streets because I was joining the #climatechangeprotest being held all over the world. This is also part of worldwide #climatestrikes initiated by #GretaThunberg.
Carrying various hashtags, #FridaysforFuture and #ClimateStrike, this is a movement embraced largely by the youth whose future is profoundly affected by the excesses of the current and the past generations.
So as a fifty-something, passionately concerned about #climatechange and the fact that the human species still does not realise or acknowledge the extent of damage we have wreaked on nature, I felt that I had to do something. Instead of just armchair protest or prosletysing, actually taking to the streets in support of the Generation-Z, as they are being described, I went out on my virgin protest march.
The weather was beautifully warm and sunny, a late Indian summer that we have been having. The turnout was huge. Young, old, babes-in-arms, people in wheelchairs, in costumes, with bands and musical instruments – it was a very carnival-like atmosphere. It was nothing like I’d imagined.
It was exhilarating to be part of something bigger than just my own personal little life. It felt empowering to be doing something than just reading about it in the press.
There were speeches from a wide spectrum of people. From scientists studying the effects of humans on climate to 16-year old students and politicians from the Green party. But what surprised me the most was how involved, articulate and passionate the younger generation is. I felt in awe of them. There was no one leader everyone was looking up to. It appeared to be group of teenagers both visible and invisible who were organising everything.
Awe – some!
It was smoothly orchestrated, all aspects of health and safety, practicalities etc. were taken care of. It was impressive and awe-inspiring. And I wondered if I was as articulate at that age when I read that a nine-year old took to the stage to question the mayor of her city over pollution and its effects on school children!
After the initial speeches for an hour where we all did a die-in – in mourning for a dying Earth – we all went round the city centre in a slow meandering march. Led by a youthful Samba band, with slogans of
What do we want? #ClimateJustice
When do we want it? NOW
Echoing all over the city, all traffic came to a standstill. I could not help but see the irony of cars, buses, delivery vehicles all spewing fumes waiting for the protest march to pass – the very crowd of people who were protesting for #climatejustice! I wondered if the others noticed it too.
Scientists in blue T-shirts were on hand to ask any questions regarding #climatechange. And I thought that was a very intelligent move as education and information is the only way forward to engage people for a cause.
The tables were turned. A younger generation leading the older generation. As if the ‘elders’ needed to learn from the youth, needed to be shown the way, needed to be led rather than lead. We, as children, are always told to listen to the elders, follow them as they have more experience. But after last Friday, I am not so sure. Just listening to #Greta talk so articulately about the effects of us humans on the environment, the climate that is so rapidly changing, the Amazon forests – the lungs of the Earth – burning, all facts, all figures at her finger tips – I do wonder at the ‘wisdom’ the older generation is supposed to have!
These protests are happening all over the world, every Friday, as the youngsters are asking – what use is studying for a future when the likelihood of there being one is so remote? Another question that resonates is, “Why are we called Generation-Z? Is it because we will be the last generation?” All right questions, don’t you think?
Have you been in any such protest? Do write in your experiences. Do you even agree with the climate scientists when they say that humans are causing irreparable damage to the planet? And that we are responsible for #climatechange?
So would I do it again? Without a doubt! In the pouring rain, cold wind and snow? Yes, I will.