March 15th 2019 saw something special. Something that I personally hadn’t seen since February 15, 2003. Back then, we coordinated across the world in protest of the American-led invasion of Iraq. We were angry, but across the globe and across our many so-called differences, we were united in a common cause. Back then, I tried to make my voice heard from the Swedish southern city of Malmö, all the way across the Atlantic to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But this time, the distance was much shorter, because this past Friday, the politicians heard us in Stockholm. We were literally in and around the parliament. And we were not alone.
The 1.4 million people around the globe had followed an initiative by a young Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, who a couple of months ago sat alone outside the Swedish parliament, school striking ahead of the Swedish general election to keep the Swedish government on track with the Paris Agreement of carbon emissions. This action spread in various ways and became global news.
Greta Thunberg has become the catalyst for a new generation of climate crisis awareness. Her beliefs and her words towards people of power, and with people of power have sparked something, and this past Friday was a huge testament to how people, especially youths, have woken up. With so many nay-sayers in powerful positions, and one disaster report after another, it does seem hopeless at times. But then this happens, and hope finds that spark.
Forcing politicians to listen is one thing. It can happen out of fear from losing their elected seats, or through intelligent discussions with the world watching. But the other thing is just as important, and that is to shape the youth of today. At the manifestation on Friday I saw a lot of people whose young lives are already devoted to this cause. Many of them were young girls. They would yell chants, or stand quietly with their message, making sure that every possible camera saw the message and the look in their eyes.
There were also other youths who just tagged along, sometimes yelling something provocative about more diesel in the world, but mostly to impress their other guy friends with equally low self-esteem. Some of these kids just liked the fact that they got to be out of school, and listen to the band Tjuvjakt on stage (as well as the secret artist of the day, First Aid Kit). But even though every single one present in Stockholm that day weren’t in it when they got there, I’m sure the message also reached them. Maybe this day will make them secretly want to recycle, even if it is just to impress that person they like, who seems to be in on the whole climate thing.
Even starting to slide those who don’t care at all towards caring at times, is a win for the cause. This global strike for climate has so many layers of good in it. A sense of unity, regardless of where you are from, which language you speak, or which God (if any) you feel for. That is the key with this movement. And it all started, in this instance, with one single girl and a sign that most people at first didn’t even notice. But this is not about Greta Thunberg as a person, it’s about the cause that she is fighting for. A cause that is now over a million strong, and growing.