Young people on the streets by Susan Grimsdell

I’ve come across two crowds of young people in the past couple of weeks.  On 24 May hundreds and hundreds of students marched down Queen Street in Auckland blocking the entire street.

They were angry at us – oldies – who have used and abused the planet: the damaged, degraded planet they will be obliged to cope with in the coming years.  They carried handmade placards with messages from the heart.  These were not mass-produced as is the case in some protests.  “I’d be in School if the Planet were Cool”, “I’ll Clean My Room when you Clean the Planet”, “Planet Not Profit”, “Don’t Foul Our Future”.

Conviction

Every few minutes they all dropped down to lie on the ground.  It was just so impressive, they were so passionate, that tears came to my eyes as I walked down the street alongside them.  They had chosen to join the march instead of going to school, some of them missing important assessment tests because of it.   It gave me hope for the future if there are so many knowledgeable, concerned young people in our country.  Similar protest marches were occurring all over New Zealand, part of a worldwide movement led by the fantastic Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

Consumerism

Two days ago, I was walking along when I came across, again, a crowd of young people – perhaps 100 or more of them.  They were all queuing in a lane near where I live.   I asked one of them what it was all about, and he pointed to an Adidas store, just along from where he was.  “There’s a new model out, and we all want a pair,” he said.  Wha-a-at?  “Are they free or half price or something?”  I asked.  He laughed loudly – “Oh no,” he said, “They’re about $400 or more.  Free!! That’s a good one!”

Further along a woman was standing outside her office.  “Is it true,” I asked her, “Are they really queuing to buy shoes?”   “They sure are,” she said, “and some of them have been here all night.”

Caring

What a contrast – some kids caring so much about our poor struggling planet, others just caring about consuming more and more and being first to consume a new product.  What’s the secret – how can we change the consumers into carers?   We absolutely have to find a way to do that if there’s any hope of the human race surviving the looming catastrophe as we spew more and more poison into the atmosphere and destroy more and more habitat for endangered species.

The paper the next day had no mention of the new Adidas model, but it did have an article about two kids in one Auckland family who could only go to school every other day because there was only one pair of shoes so the kids had to take turns.

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