I don’t go to many protests. But I went to the ‘Climate one’ last Friday week. I don’t mean to put myself at the centre of the story or anything — who am I kidding, of course I do — but the fact that the Likes of Me went along is noteworthy.
There are a lot of the Likes of Me. The non-protesty, a bit mealy-mouthed, reasonably good-at-heart but flawed and selfish, not strong ideologically, conflict-averse, oh-was-that-today?-oh-sorry-I-forgot, people. And we are a constituency that need to do a bit more thinking about what it means to live on a finite planet. So for the people leading the climate strike, getting a chunk of us to turn up was not a bad start.
What does it take to go to a protest (assuming you have the time, health and the transport and it doesn’t cost a huge amount of missed work)
First, you need to hear about the protest then you need to broadly agree with what they are trying to bring attention to, but also you need to have some sort of emotional connection.
That emotional connection can be anger or hope but also it’s perfectly fine that the emotion might be a little bit of guilt. Guilt about the effects of our lifestyles but also guilt that it takes young people to point the way.
There is much criticism of the climate strikes. It falls into several categories:
The first type is just plain sneering at young people for being … young people. Laughing at them because they are idealistic. This is done by assholes and asshole-affiliates. Studies — done by me — have shown that there’s not a whole lot you can do about assholes in the short term.
Arguing with them is using up too much energy and if the current climate crisis teaches us anything, it’s that we need to conserve energy. Once we can find a way of harnessing asshole energy in some sort of methane energy plant, then assholes are hopefully carbon negative.
There are those who profess concern for young people because young people are going to be worried about the climate and should be enjoying their lives and leave us to worry about it. I think that the youth have had a look at how we’re getting on and said: Step aside. Let us have a go for a sec. Look and Learn. Plus, they’re going to be worried anyway so going on a protest and shouting, singing is probably a good catharsis for them.
And then there are those who acknowledge the protest is goodhearted but that it’s misguided and being manipulated by shadowy forces: something something George Soros something something.
Here’s the thing: I don’t care if ten year olds with homemade placards haven’t quite tied down all the details on creating a new form of capitalism. I don’t care if a fourteen year old girl doing a spoken-word piece that’s a bit earnest, doesn’t yet have a detailed solution on how to sustainably mine the rare earths in the smartphone she has the AUDACITY to takes selfies with.
Its. Not. Their. Job to fix this. It’s ours. And anyway, protesting is not just about convincing others to change. It’s about building networks between people for the next steps. And it’s ok not to know the next step.
And call me a beta-male cuck who’s never fought a real war but it’s very hard not to be moved at a protest when you see primary school children, in perfect formation, with their little heads shouting that they care about something.
And Greta? I don’t think she needs to ‘go to a movie’. I hope she gets enough sleep and sustaining food but I’m happy enough that she knows what she’s doing. I feel like she is about this far away from shouting at some slimy congressman or world leader LISTEN YOU EFFING TURD I’M JUST TELLING YOU TO DO MORE THAN NOTHING. And if she does. I won’t protest.