Respecting our Common Home on the streets
“Why are you still joining those climate demonstrations?” This is the most frequently question I get asked by friends and parents when they feel my enthusiasm in joining a climate strike rally. “Does staying comfortable in your office or at home change anything in your opinion?” I often ask them in return. Since the beginning of the strikes and the youth demonstrations, I have felt that something is changing. Firstly, the fact that everyone is talking about this and that the focus of mass media has switched from the usual business talks to something new and urgent that concerns the entire world is almost unprecedented. Secondly, people are increasingly starting to ask themselves what they can do to avoid a climate catastrophe by recognizing their role and responsibility to face the current situation and act.
Last Friday, I joined the rally organized in Brussels by a big network of youth organizations and NGOs. Approximately 20.000 people took to the streets of Brussels making the itinerary noisy and colorful. I felt encouraged to see how many people had left their offices, their libraries and their homes to join the big strike. I felt hopeful to see very young people singing and motivating their peers.
While walking, several highlights from the CIDSE youth climate camp, which ended a few weeks ago, came to my mind. During the camp, I had the possibility to exchange a lot with young people from more than 20 countries, all connected by their willingness and active involvement in social and climate justice actions. I remembered discussions full of hope for the future. I often heard the sentiment “I am already changing things in my community, but we need to do more”.
Who says that young people don’t care? At the camp, I met 50 young people who are already caring for our planet. They are doing so on a daily basis in their universities, their parishes and their youth clubs. Most of them did not receive initial support from their peers or adults around them. Despite this, they did not give up. Their commitment and their reasons to act were stronger than their fear of failure. The fact that during this mobilization week most of those young people are taking to the streets is a clear sign that everyone is caring and inspiring other young people.
Right after the camp, we received a beautiful poem written by a young British activist who joined the climate camp. A couple of other participants suggested sharing it to the wider public, and eventually came up with a simple idea: why not connect our participation and involvement in these demonstrations through Emma’s poem? The result mobilized hundreds of people and here it is.
When I heard Pope Francis’ call to the political leaders gathering at the UN climate summit “I would like these three key words: honesty, courage and responsibility, to be at the heart of your work today and tomorrow” I immediately linked it to those young people who are committed to care of “Our Common Home” on a daily basis. I believe that these three words have been the inspiration for our journey “Change for the planet, Care for the people” and they will continue being the basic foundations of our future actions.