“We are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not.”
at the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, 1 March 2019
When I was Greta’s age, I was afraid of war. I protested against nuclear rockets being stationed in Germany. But I never went on a school strike, if I remember correctly. And, as far as I know, I never caught the attention of an American President.
I was ‘chilled out’ without anybody having to tell me. I don’t think I was even too angry about what the older generations were doing. They were a lost cause, not really worth worrying about too much. I had tons of fun playing guitar, singing, being with my friends, making fun about the threat from the East. While I wasn’t part of the ‘No Future’ or ‘Drop Out’, Null Bock Generation, I knew I was not going to achieve World Peace. If they wanted to push the Red Button, they were going to do so anyway and there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it.
A few decades later, I am wondering: Is there something like ‘futurisation of the past’, or ‘archeology of the future ‘? Is the future ‘destiny’ or can we determine it by our actions?
Difficult questions don’t have a black and white answer. There are things in life, in our future, that we cannot determine or influence. And there are things which we can absolutely make or not make happen.
We can do things to change the future. And things that have a purpose, things that make sense, things that have meaning, are easier to do than boring purposeless things.
Here is an example: if you want to improve the movement of your hands and your fingers, you could just open and close your hands a few times – as an exercise; or you could practice your grip, hold on to something and then squeeze it so much that it flops out of your hand – like a bit of soap.
In the process you wash your hands thoroughly and have a bit of fun letting the warm water swash around your fingers and hands.
All of a sudden, there is an obvious, immediate reason to move your hands and fingers and it feels nice being able to do it. The motivational barometre goes up sky high. As a result, your hand movements and your coordination gets better and better. It’s an action to influence the future.
We know that if we don’t move, our organs will shut down and we will die. We know that keeping fit will keep us healthy. We know that our actions will destroy the planet. And we know that if we wash our hands regularly, we help to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Greta has done her homework. She knows the difference between destiny and futurization, the idea of predicting potential outcomes of our actions.
Greta also knows that many people have not done their homework, many of them in power. When will they ever learn?
I have changed my mind. I will go for world peace. Save the planet.
Create a life worth living for those who have been written off.
Pete Seeger: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955. In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quie Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.