Updated: Aug 15, 2019
On the 15th of March 2019, protests acted out by school children took place all over Europe with the intention of battling climate change. Climate change is an issue that has being facing the global community for many years and has often been the source of a heated debate. People have always generally agreed that something needs to change. Many of us are conscious of recycling our household waste and cycling or walking instead of driving seems to have become very poplar in recent years. Plenty of people have done some wonderful things to make a real positive difference and the distance humanity has come in the last few decades is astounding. However, all this change has been gradual, as all processes are. It can often be hard to notice real change, especially when it is happening all around you all of the time. Sometimes, however, change can be witnessed, and this is what we call a moment.
Moments are all around us. We see them on our way to work in the morning, on the bus, on holiday and on our television screens. Moments can often be hard to define. But if you ever experience something as real as a true moment, you’ll know why it’s so special. A moment is an experience you have that is already a piece of history while it is still taking place. They come in many forms and can often mean very little to most people. But to those who witnessed it, it is something very special. Having been one of many that happened to witness an environmental protest march today, I can say that this was one of those moments.
I was sceptical at first and wondered how much real change it would invoke in the decision making of the powerful. But as quickly as my scepticism started to rise up it was stunned into submission by the power omitted by the hundreds of young people marching through the streets. I could see the history being made right before my eyes and it was a wonder to behold – I couldn’t help but smile.
After moving past the protest and into the neighbourhood of my humble flat, it occurred to me the real force of what I had seen. It wasn’t the banners, or the chanting, or even my own ethical investment in the welfare of this planet that made me stop and ponder the protest I had seen. It was seeing that great mass of people, all coming together for a common cause, trying to change something that they believed needed to be changed. It did not matter if only half of them really cared about the environment, or if they got a lift home from their mum in a 7-seater diesel car later that day. What mattered was that all of them had banded together and decided to act for the common good. It could almost have been for anything. God only knows there is enough wrong with our current systems – we could have a protest every other weekend. Perhaps that is the point. It seems most of us could go on a protest march at the drop of a hat, no matter what the cause, just to show our dissatisfaction with the forces that dictate our lives. And here it was, a demonstration of all that dissatisfaction, being displayed for all to see in a high street in Stroud. There is an art to a protest. Energy must be channelled into the collective consciousness of the group and each and every person must be geared up to fight the same battle. This is what we saw all over Europe today, and like actors on a stage, these school children told us a real story. A story that says if you are bold enough, and brave enough, you can stand up to any force that might be weighing down on you. There is no rule too heavy that you can’t throw off those chains and go your own way.
We don’t know the outcome of these protests yet but there are two which seem most likely. Either big corporations and governments will listen, or they won’t. Our grandchildren’s world will either be one with a happy healthy planet or one of pollution and destruction. Either way, they will ask us what we did to change the world and we will say we protested in the streets because that was the only way to express what needed to be said. We recognised the moment we were a part of and called on our friends to come together, pick up a banner and make a difference.