Students’ Strike for Climate
It feels merely years ago that I graduated high school, headed off to uni, did some travel, and was ready to change the world. But it was 17 years ago.
My generation was going to do the fixing. We would be so well informed, so conscientious. We would wrestle the power from the older generation because we knew what was at stake. Now I’m 34. My generation are not in power yet. We are the generation of workers, fathers and mothers. There’s so much work to do. Women of my generation are still busting our guts for equality, and still being killed by our partners weekly. Our Indigenous brothers and sisters are still far worse off than us, and their children less educated and more incarcerated. We are nowhere near being in control of the world; nowhere near wrestling the country from the hands of the middle aged white males who still rule.
So, as a teacher, and a mother, I am buoyed by the actions of students this week. I mean, my generation aren’t doing anything to fix the world, so I sure as hell support them in their endeavours.
With my daughter in childcare, my 8 month old son and I set off for Geelong town. We didn’t make it in time to meet the crew at Richard Marles’ office (damn!) and, knowing the strikers were heading off to the Town Hall at 10am, at 10:08 we were power pram walking up the wrong street (oops), chasing protesters we couldn’t see. When we turned up towards the Town Hall, sweat dripping off my brow and the only activist t-shirt I could find (Girls Just Wanna Have FunDAMENTAL RIGHTS) sticking to my back, we had the strikers in sight. A public servant offered me a “Good morning!” as I pushed my ridiculously heavy infant up the hill towards the flashing police lights and the sounds of some good in-unison chanting.
When I was in Year 10, I participated in the Walk for Reconciliation and when I was 18, I walked in protest of the Iraq war. In the year 2000, my Japanese teacher quietly divulged to us that she wasn’t sick one day – she was off in the city protesting the tax being placed on sanitary items. She was/is still my hero.
These children that my son and I went to support were striking FOR THEIR LIVES. This is their planet, their climate, their livelihood. We listened, happily, inspired to their speeches – one by one, student by student, they got up and explained to the crowd their fears and dreams. From the mouth of a 14 year old, a famous quote: “When the leaders are acting like children, and the children like leaders… you know change is coming.” The moment was lost when a state Upper House member got a hold of the microphone and started banging on about how important it was that students took the situation out of the hands of the 50 year old men in charge… like him. The crowd were confused about whether to applaud or not. “SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT??!?” someone yelled from the back. He went into some political campaign rambling. “GIVE IT BACK TO THE STUDENTS!!!” He acquiesced, to all our relief.
The students break into music and dance. My son bobs around in my arms. So many faces, so much passion. “Maybe it will all be okay?” I look for hope in his little face. He blows a raspberry in agreement.