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Youth Activism: We're here to stay!

By R. S. Drain

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

After Scott Morrison’s recent condemnation of the Big School Walkout for Climate Action, in which school children from all over Australia packed up their books and marched out of their schools, in order to protest in major cities such as Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne, and demanded the Australian government to stop the Adani coal mine in Queensland, begin no new coal or gas projects, and to attempt for 100 per cent renewables by 2030- the prime minister’s criticism sparks the question: is Youth Activism worth encouraging? Are children and teenagers able to fully understand what they’re fighting for? Can they actually make a difference?

Hosier Lane Mural by Street artist Van T Rudd

The Australian Prime Minister responded to the controversy and made his stance on Youth Activism very clear, as he told Australia that he ‘’does not support our schools being turned into parliaments’’ and that ‘“what we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”

Image by NiklasPntk from Pixabay

Unfortunately for him, the future generations seems less than able to accept their inevitable doom at the hands of an Earth which is rapidly becoming too unstable to continue supporting human life. As a result these protests show no sign of dying down.

Meanwhile a similar wave of restlessness has washed over America, following the endless breaking news of school shootings and gun violence, which have killed nearly 40,000 Americans in 2018 alone, and devastated the lives of countless others.

No longer able to tolerate a childhood shadowed in fear, a group of students who survived the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School began a demonstration called March for Our Lives, which is demanding stricter gun laws.

On 24 March 2018 In DC and other cities, hundreds of thousands of students and others marched to demand common sense gun control in the wake of deadly school shootings in the U.S. Photo by Mobilus in Mobili. CC

Students protesting gun violence in the wake of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Photo by Lorie Shaull, at the White House, February 19, 2018. CC

The American government’s response to these protests were considerably more positive than Australia. The White House released a statement that they were ‘’congratulating the brave young Americans’’ who were making the best use of the first amendment, and that the government was working on policies to make schools safer; such as arming teachers with guns and ‘urging Congress to pass the Fix NICS and STOP School Violence Acts’ - although these were different policies than the ones requested by the March for Our Lives movement.

The policies that March for Our Lives aim to administer are able to be viewed on their website and social media pages, and include simple goals such as funding for gun violence research, eliminate restriction on the ATF, and universal background checks.

This ability to connect and build their movements through social media and the internet has also done a great part in fuelling the fire of youth activism. Never before has the world been as connected as it has today, and the current generation have been the first to experience this. Why should they not want to utilise this asset and build a better future for themselves?

By Ben Jennings cartoonist and illustrator

Much of the backlash aimed at Youth Activism treats children like bystanders, instead of members of a society in which they currently feel unsafe, insecure and want to change for the better. This is especially true in developing countries, where youths such as Malala Yousafzai - the famous Nobel prize winner intent on getting an education for girls everywhere - who faced the bullet of a gun in order to get her voice heard and started a difficult conversation that many governments seem scared to acknowledge.

Childhoods are not free from adversity, and the future generations are not willing to stand by while the world falls to ruins before their eyes. As we march into the future, perhaps it's time for us all to accept the spirit being reborn in the children of the world.

As Dr Suess once said,‘’Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. It's not.’’

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.


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