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A photo from WBUR of the Boston Youth Climate Strike — Sept. 20th, 2019 | Source

The world is slowly waking up. After decades of disinformation lulled us into a dream-filled sleepwalk through life, we finally say, “no more.” As young people lead the charge, shaking us all from our stupor and rightfully demanding a livable future, I will rise with them. I say, “no more.”

For too long, the powerful and wealthy have hidden the truth from the world about the then impending climate crisis that is now gripping us all. Those who had the ability to speak up, to use their power responsibly for the good of people, instead chose to be silent, ignorant, or shamelessly deceitful. What a world we live in; that the incentives and mechanisms that turn the gears of society produce such greed and shortsightedness as to condemn the powerless, the poor, the oppressed, the young, and generations yet unborn to a future plagued by strife, and a present rife with anxiety.

I feel that anxiety as I anticipate a potential future where suffering and struggle are woven into the very fabric of everyday living. My mind knows that if we do not act — and act rapidly and powerfully — then the future will indeed be one to rightfully fear. When I think of the future we will bring about if we do not take this seriously, I imagine the pain my loved ones would have to endure, and I feel myself quaking with anger. When I reflect on my constant questioning of my desire to one day start a family, given the suffering I would put them through, my heart breaks and I feel tears well into my eyes. Those who continue to abdicate responsibility when they have the power to act are robbing me of my future.

I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I constantly hear stories from friends and strangers alike who feel the anxiety, embody the same fear that shakes them to their core, and are ready to stand up. We all resonate in our pain and the world is hearing the reverberations. Those who are already suffering and have experienced tremendous loss throw fuel onto the fire that rages in our souls. We are ready to demonstrate to the profit-seeking, impotent so-called leaders of our world that perhaps the most powerful renewable energy of all is not wind, water, or solar, but the indomitable and furious flames of our collective human spirit.

So today, I strike. The status quo — the business-as-usual indifference which we are compelled to dejectedly reproduce day after day — is driving us toward the precipice. When the system is that which seeks to lead us to extinction, we politely, yet with unwavering seriousness, say, “Fuck the system.” Today, I strike from indifference. I strike from acting like everything is okay. I strike for my future, for the ones I love, and for those who have already lost so much.

To be totally honest, it is scary and feels strange to strike. To forgo the many calls we hear to continue serving the world which makes us busy and stressed feels uncomfortable. I think of all the deadlines I have, the commitments I have made. Life is demanding, and we all have obligations to which we are beholden.

But, I think we often forget that if we all stop, the world stops. We are that which perpetuates the status quo, and continually brings about the busy life. There is really no moment in life where people tell us that we can simply say, “no.” The deadlines and commitments will keep coming, but only if we let them. We are each so much more free than we realize. To exercise that freedom, to trust and value yourself enough to allow yourself to say “no,” is no small feat.

Luckily, none of us has to do this alone. We are all in this together. If you are nervous or unsure if you can truly say “no,” then let me tell you that you can. I believe and trust in you as others have believed and trusted in me. It may seem silly to hear all this in your head as you read text written by perhaps a total stranger, but I really mean it. Rarely do we take the time to look at each other and really say from the heart, “I have your back.” Then let my heart be laid bare on this page for you to take or leave: I have your back.

Today, I strike. Will you?

Written by

PhD student in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at Tufts University, organizer with Sunrise Movement and MA Peace Action. Philosophy nerd.

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