KAMLOOPS — Last week, I attended a public presentation at TRU of Al Gore’s, An Inconvenient Sequel. It was hosted by Shawna-Rae McLean, President of TRU’s Political Science Club and perhaps for the first time when discussing climate change, I was left with a sense of optimism.
That sense of optimism was not so much the result of the actual presentation, although there were several encouraging moments, but because of the people attending.
This was not the typical audience I’m used to seeing at such an event. Yes there was the contingent of silver-haired, environmentally aware and concerned participants. But, and this is the kicker, they were in the minority of an audience of several hundred. The majority, were composed of young, articulate and concerned students and educators.
In fact, the audience reminded me somewhat of the late '60s and early '70s when students began finding their voice and protesting against what they felt was an unjust war in Vietnam. It began as a small disorganized, almost haphazard movement, but over time would grow to the point of forcing two presidents out of office, ending the war and changing the direction of the world.
It was a time when hundreds of thousands of students from around the world recognized something was wrong. That the political authority we had been taught to respect and not question was in reality not deserving of that respect or trust. As a result of their decisions, tens of thousands of people our age were being killed in a war no one seemed to fully understand or want.
And for the first time in over 45 years, I have finally seen that same hint of an awakening in those who will eventually have to live in a world formed by the decisions being made today.
Yes, concern for our environment and what we are doing to it has attracted dedicated activists for a number of years. However, I have not, at least until now, seen any hint that it could make that needed transition in the same way Vietnam did: a transformation from random activism to a coordinated social and political movement.
What I’m used to seeing from students over the past 20 or so years can best be summed up as complacency. Of course, there were the few, but for the most part I sensed an abandoning of responsibility for the future, their future. Sure, we can blame a lot of the pessimism on we Baby Boomers and lately we seem to be doing a pretty good job of adding to the feeling of hopelessness.
But our Boomer time is on the decline now and I’ve been waiting and looking for the new leaders to step forward. Leaders with the courage to point out the stupidity of some of the decisions made over the past decades. Leaders with answers and the same drive effrontery and youthful audacity we once had.
I’m not talking about throwing trashcans through store windows and setting cars on fire. We had a few of those morally corrupt, violent and brain-dead individuals too. No, I’m talking about making noise, being inconvenient but also doing more than showing us the errors of our ways. Show us the answers and be willing to take on the extremely difficult struggle to make it right and make the world you envision happen.
We did it nearly half a century ago but lately seem to have lost our way and maybe in the process have contributed towards discouraging you. Whenever I would visit a campus, it would sadden me when I thought you didn’t care. I mistook hopelessness for callous, self-entitled indifference but last week and for the first time, I saw I was wrong and I saw a change happening and it gave me hope.
They say that we often grow up to become what we said we never would be: our parents. Maybe that is the problem with many Boomers these days. So it’s time, time for you to take us on and to make sure we stop killing our planet.