Witnessing Hanoi Climate Strike at Cathédrale Saint Joseph brought tears to my eyes. I felt so touched and emotional… I know that there was Walk for Climate in Saigon and it got warnings from the police. I also know that the facebook event of Hanoi Climate Strike got deleted. Still, there were people coming down to the Cathedral, standing and holding their own handmade banner in a very earnest manner. Although they were just a small group of people and they could do nothing other than standing and holding signs, the way they “fought” for the environment, how they “deliver” their message was incredibly beautiful. I believe they have succeeded. They have won the hearts of whomever was there. They have raised their voice through silence.
I went there with one of my best-est friends, she bursted into tears saying: “Everyone looks so beautiful, but I’m so sad, because this is all we can do”. But I think although that was all we could do, we did our best, even if our best is limited by circumstances.
I know that lately the news about Greta Thunberg is going viral on social media, she is said to be a phenomenal environmental activist. Only until 2 days ago did I watch her speech, and I understand her anger seeing environmental issues keep on being brought up yet never to be solved (because humans are just humans). Many disagree with how she shared her opinions in such a manner but I think she has successfully spread her message to hundreds of people. Of course, when a child stands up and raises her voice against the politicians, she will be considered a joke, a crown (a comment which I often see on Greta’s speech youtube videos). Her voice would be distorted and twisted by the people who make fun of her, who judge and insult her. But why? For what? She is just saying the truth, and the truth may not be pretty, but it still carries the weight that we must bear as a global community. That weight are not on the youngsters’ shoulders. It’s on OUR shoulders. And at least, Greta is actually doing something about the problem, unlike us who are just surfing the internet typing horrible comments about a teenager trying to do nothing but save OUR planet. I think what Greta did is just to create a platform to better share her opinions, like what she did in this video:
‘Children like me are giving up their education to protest, but we can still fix this.’ — Greta Thunberg explains the most obvious (and natural) solution to the climate crisis
Posted by NowThis Politics on Thursday, September 19, 2019
And I think, if she did not say things her way, these environmental events all over the world (even in Hanoi) would not/could not be happening. She is not just some angry kid throwing shades at the politicians, and she is not the first. Before her, there was a Anishinaabe-kwe girl who is a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario, Canada, her name is Autumn Peltier. She is a Water Protector and has been called a “Water Warrior”.
“I speak for the water because water is alive and it does have a spirit. And she is hurt everyday” – Autumn Peltier.
In 2017, when Autumn had the chance to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, she dissolved into tears and said: “I’m very unhappy with the choices you made and broke promises to my people.”
The Prime Minister answered: “I understand.”
And the only thing that Autumn could speak up was “The pipelines”.
The Prime Minister then replied: “I will protect the water.”
From that time onwards, Canada has had some changes in policies and adjustments with the pipelines which have polluted water of the indigenous people. However, the changes are still quite subtle in Autumn’s opinion.
“My heart is not for sale, and neither are our water and our lands.” – Autumn, in her speech at the UN.
“For me this work.. I’m gonna keep on doing this work for the rest of my life. I hope that I can make a change and people all around the world would have clean drinking water.”
Her heart is so pure and her soul is filled with hope and beauty. She still wants to do contribute more to the world. Yet, she was verbally and physically bullied by the other kids, she had to go to counselling. When I learned about this information, I had a hard time believing in the humankind in general. I do not want anyone, who stand up to do the right thing, to endure criticism from people who can’t fathom why the activists do what they do. I respect and also worry for the young generation to speak up, because the world does not seem kind to people who are different…
Another indigenous young environmental activist that I adore is Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, he is also a hip-hop artist, a director of “Earth Guardians”, a worldwide conservation organization.
Because of his efforts in conserving nature, he received countless threats from the big corporations. His mother didn’t even let him walk back home alone after school. At that time, he was just a 14-year-old boy.
“The planet does not need saving. But we do” – Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, in his speech at the UN in 2015.
I think we should stop looking down on kids, but rather start listening to them. Besides, we should not label them just as “kids”. They are also activists, what they need is us listening and perceiving their messages. We also need to stop oppressing and criticizing every message just because they don’t follow our ideals, or maybe just because it was not as polished as it should be. Because at least they’ve tried to speak up their mind and done the right thing for the society unlike us who are still busy worrying for only ourselves. It is high time that we started to care for others, for our community, for our generation, and for the future of our descendants…
I was not certain with what to write about when I started. Right now, I just think that I’m trying to write about the good things in life that need to be shared, and the bad things that should be limited and eventually stopped.
“I stand before you today representing my entire generation as well as generations unborn. I stand before you representing the indigenous peoples of this earth and those that will inherit the effects of our climate crisis that we face today as a global community.
My father raised me in the Mexica tradition. I learned from my father that all life is sacred. He showed me that every living thing is connected because we all draw life from the same earth and we all drink from the same waters.
It is our responsibility to respect and protect what gives us life.”
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez at the UN 2015