Throughout my whole life, I knew I cared about the planet. I had no doubts in my mind that it was something to be cherished and protected. But, I am just a student. We are taught our whole lives that we are in school to learn from the wisdom of our teachers and the adults around us. What do we know? Throughout my whole life, I did not comprehend how to translate my feelings of respect and admiration for the Earth into change. From what I understood, as a student, you learn, and then as an adult, you act.
At 350VT as an intern this semester, I experienced a shift in this mindset– not just within me, but throughout the world. Young people have risen up in the fight for climate justice. Now, more than ever, there are students marching and organizing for our futures. I marched in the Next Steps Walk alongside students from elementary schools, high schools, homeschools, and colleges. I watched as my peers testified at the Statehouse in overwhelming numbers. I stood on the floor of the Statehouse in Montpelier as we voiced our fear for our future. I sat at a Sunrise Movement Town Hall organized by students to discuss the Green New Deal. I saw how we, as youth, gave adults hope, and how we give each other hope.
I learned that the fight for what you believe in cannot come later in life. You cannot wait until you feel fully prepared to act, because that day will simply never come.
This is the fight– the everyday work, the organizing, talking to communities, moving through life with the compassion and the ferocity to make a difference.
As a young person, overwhelmed by a flood of doomsday predictions that fall well within your lifetime, this fight can feel desperate and endless. It can be difficult to imagine that your voice is given any weight by the adults in suits sitting in the legislature. But the fight that I have witnessed over the past five months at 350VT has proven otherwise. I realized that people are watching, and people can hear us. And they are listening.
The power of grassroots movements is the people. It is the hundreds of individuals who have committed to fighting– day in and day out. As I watch and learn from those around me who enthusiastically organize and plan and push for a better world, I understand now. As I watch youth in Vermont and the U.S. and the planet come together to resist injustice, I understand. We cannot wait to act: there is no other time than now. This is the fight.