... in a protest

Published on 20 Sep 2019
Image: climate change protest. Sign saying 'there is no planet b'

I was leaving my house to run an errand today and as I was about to leave heard a chanting outside. I went out of the door and was surprised to see a climate change protest flowing along the main road which is right next to my house. 

Almost at once my eyes filled with tears. I was walking in the opposite direction to them: it was the middle of a working day so I didn't have time to stop and protest with them, but the very act of walking in the opposite direction felt wrong. I reminded myself, through the tears which continued as I walked down the road, that not everyone can go on a protest, and that I am certainly not the worst offender when it comes to climate change, but I felt touched to the core. 

I've heard people complain about the protests because they block roads, making it hard for disabled people to get around, and in fact I passed a bus stop up the road where a man with mobility aids was waiting for a bus. That bus would be delayed by the protests. 

It is important to take issues into careful consideration and make decisions about actions on a case by case basis - sometimes it's more important for a person to do their job than stop and protest, sometimes we need to use plastic because it's the lesser of two evils in a given situation, and we ought to consider the needs of emergency services or disabled people trying to go about their daily business. It's also not helpful if we get swallowed by guilt, as that can prevent us from changing. But there's no doubt that those tears happened for a reason. I am very aware though that we often make excuses, or 'yes, buts' as my mother used to call them.

There's something beautiful and extraordinary about all these young people (of course there were older people there too!) for this. It moves me greatly to observe how climate change has gone from what most people would consider a rather peripheral issue, somewhat of a nuisance, only a few years ago, to one that is in our headlines and mainstream consciences. We may not be doing enough, but we are doing more. 

I will take away from that scene that idea: not that I can change everything at once, but that I can do more.