I went to a climate protest in Sheffield today.
I watched mere teenagers stand on the steps of the City Hall and give rousing speeches to a huge crowd. They were passionate, and they were articulate. They were heroes.
And they gave me chills. I’ll tell you why.
It wasn’t because the speeches were impressive – though they were – and it wasn’t because they stood up for something they believe in.
No, it was because they didn’t wait until somebody gave them permission. They were ready and willing to lead – willing to go first in the hope of co-creating a brighter future. An alternative.
An alternative to what, you might ask…?
The architects of doom
Well, contrast their vision and courage, if you please, with the complacent resignation of the people who – on paper at least – rule this country.
Nine years on, and the nasty, cynical Tory government we get to call our own have no compelling vision for the future.
The party who believe they were born to rule – yet can somehow neither attain nor keep their power without resorting to dirty tactics, bare-faced lies, or to having most of the British press in their pocket – have spent the past nine years subtly lowering the expectations of its citizens.
Have you noticed how we’re no longer surprised by the contempt with which our government holds us in? That this feels like… business as usual?
In one sense, you have to hand it to them – they might be unfit to rule a country, but they sure are black-belts at selling the mess they’ve made as inevitable, as reasonable, as the status quo.
Well, the young people I saw today aren’t falling for that shit. Not only do they have a vision, they are following it with conviction, courage, and integrity.
Don’t be discouraged
The message, I suppose, is don’t be discouraged. Because they love that.
They love when you feel like there’s no point doing anything because it’d just be a drop in the ocean.
They love when you get intimidated by their billionaire friends, and their blue suits, and their positively evil track records…
You know what? Fuck ’em.
You can make a difference. Not alone. But nobody said you had to do it all yourself. Nobody said you couldn’t co-ordinate. Nobody said you couldn’t organise.
What would you change about the world, if it were possible?
Whatever it is, I guarantee you there are other people – possibly millions of them – who share your vision. Now, if you all keep quiet about it, nothing will happen. Somebody has to make the first move.
Why not you?