So it seems trivial to say that the last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. We have been shaken up with grief and confusion, and had life turned on its head, with a constant fear of what might be coming up, for us personally, the people we love and more broadly for society and the earth (which hopefully we also love). It’s hard not to read about it, talk about it, dream about it and feel like it is suffocating us even when we haven’t got it.
It’s no wonder some people (particularly young people) want to dismiss or deny it (well at least denying the extent of the tragedy and continuing threat). And yes there has been parallels made with climate change. The economic impact of actions to stop the coronavirus or climate change are hard to deny. But also the moral impact (along with the economic, psychological and social impacts) of letting the destructive force slide out of control is beyond our comprehension as we have seen with bushfires ravaging the world in the last year and health systems falling apart in the last months.
After the biggest year of climate change activism in a long time, I actually see this moment, in the midst of the COVID 19 outbreak, as the best chance in a long time for young people to do some activism for our future. Because, in some ways it seems like the tables have turned from when school strikers were calling for older people to care about them and future generations. While young people have less risk of getting severely or critically ill from the virus, their action affects those around them, including people in their grandparent’s generation.
Now is the chance to show people from every walk of life that young people are caring and willing to make changes (even sacrifices*) for their compassionate love of humankind. If every young person who skipped school or just showed support for climate action last year started making posters, and other things that the cools kids do these days, that showed how important it was to stop the spread of the virus, a groundswell of support for staying at home could sweep across the empty school playgrounds and university grounds.
And if you could do this – I am not sure if I still count as young – but I’m going to say it anyway … if we could do this, surely we would be showing people from every other age bracket that we do care. We’d be setting an example for what has to come next for our planet, which is a caring that crosses generations and cultures. It is looking someone in the eye, or at least an image of them, and realising that you honestly care about them and you feel sadness for their suffering. And it is using your imagination to realise you care about all the people you can’t see as well, including those from the generation of your great great grandchildren.
So young people – show that intergenerational caring that you’ve been searching for- show them how it’s done! And hopefully the older generations will learn and feel inspired by you. So, let’s tackle this immediate threat wholeheartedly and then move on to tackling climate change and other eco-system collapse with renewed tenacity and inspiration.
*my sacrifice includes not taking my children to play with other children or to playgrounds which means I am starting to lose the plot. Hence my cliche driven and dramatic writing should be excused this once, but hopefully you still get the gist.