tomorrow is a day of action
youth led climate organizations around the world have been planning for this day for a long while, hoping to wake up the older generations and urge us into action. Meanwhile, I have to explain again why we don't buy snacks wrapped in plastic to my kids as we travel the aisles of our local market. They protest, loudly and fully, but I hear the call for clean oceans and clean air louder than theirs, and stick to my guns, for a time. It's such a challenging time to be making adult decisions, trying to weigh out what is too destructive with what's important enough to have. I finally cave and let them each have an individually wrapped bar, for the sake of everyone in the store. I feel like a total pushover, but then, something else happens. My 8 year old starts walking through the aisles saying, "everything here is wrapped in plastic! the strawberries! the grapes! the yogurt! even the figs!!! what are we supposed to eat?!" people begin to notice his ranting, which brings small smiles: "oh, the big feelings of children". Then I see some look down in their own carts to assess how much plastic they are buying along with their food. I feel a surge of hope as this younger generation, so emboldened in their feelings, might continue to bring some lasting changes to how we do things. Maybe when he's an adult, it won't be so infuriating to go to the market to find food, instead of packaging.
My generation's work seems to be reckoning with convenience, and choosing what's less comfortable. With our young kids nagging at us to continue consuming, our teens lashing out in outrage, our parents vacationing the globe while they still can, we are stuck in the middle.
as w.s. merwin writes on convenience:
we believe that we have a right to it
even though it belongs to no one
we carry a way back to it everywhere
we are sure that is is saving something
we consider it our personal savior
all we have to pay for it is ourselves
This last line, doesn't ring true. I don't think the older generations have had to pay for the convenience they've required, but time has run out, and the next generations will be facing all of our choices head on.
So what are our choices? I have a vision of each of us doing something inconvenient for the sake of our earth's health. Join a march, write a letter to someone in power, hang a sign on your car, have a conversation with your neighbor. Let's act like the earth's immune system, protective and strong, holding in the foreground the image of a wholly beautiful earth for our future generations. Like a murmuration of starlings, we too can unite to create something beautiful. Let's not hide behind convenience and let our children be the ones to pay for it.
for the plants, for the people ~
~frieda kipar bay, rh