by Georgia Preece
With these words, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden becomes the face of a global climate justice revolution: "I want you to panic."
Future (v.) a hope, a concept not yet realised.
Future is finite and fragile; it falls on the shoulders of a generation untrained for the battle they are fighting, and yet they do so in desperation. At their forefront stands a teenage girl amongst a rabble of leaders. Greta Thunberg stands tall, with dignity, as she addresses the European Parliament.
“I want you to panic." Her fragile form is expelled by the strength in her voice, and at sixteen years old, an autistic girl from Sweden becomes the face of a global climate justice revolution. Her message ripples like rising water, appearing on screens across the globe. It isn't long before everyone knows her name and her message. In her, a generation poisoned by anxiety sees its own potential for strength. The spark for revolution is lit.
Future is a verb, something to be done, not something that simply exists. It rests in the hands of a generation that grew up on the false promise of prosperity. These were children who were told they could be anything they wanted; but they never wanted to spend their childhoods fighting for a tomorrow beyond their grasp. To spend their youth chained to the gates of parliaments by their necks, begging robots in suits to learn empathy.
Tomorrow was a promise given by a generation who simultaneously burnt it down. It was an assumption based on monotony, routine, and blind faith in repetition. But routines are reliant on a level of maintained stability, which in the age of the Anthropocene, cannot be expected. Tomorrow is fragile, but tomorrow is possible.
Tomorrow is a message dispersed across screens like dandelion seeds dancing in the wind. It takes root, and blossoms. Tomorrow is a teenage boy, chained to the gates of a fracking site, blocking machinery from entering. He smiles with the sound of rebels singing in solidarity. Tomorrow is a teenage girl, stood face to face with a police officer double her age and stature. A yellow flag blows in the wind, grasped tightly in her trembling hand, her eyes flooded with tears as she watches friends being folded into the back of vans.
Tomorrow is Topacio Reynoso, a sixteen year old girl from Guatemala who was murdered by private security guards because of her anti-mining protest work. “If we’re attacked”, she said. “We’ll die together." Reynoso’s work was not a choice she made, she saw it as an obligation and fought without fear in one of the most dangerous parts of the world for environmental activism.
Tomorrow is a sixteen year old girl from Sweden, armed with a love for the environment, Asperger's syndrome, and resilience. "We have not come here to beg world leaders to care” she declared. “We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not."