Truthdig - September 27, 2019

"To what end? There has been no greater progressive delusion and no bigger graveyard of social movements in American history than U.S. candidate-centered electoral politics. Voting for a Democrat who sounds like he or she cares about the environment fixes nothing. It can actually make things worse, by creating an illusion that one has meaningfully advanced hope and change when one has really just helped put deceptive new clothes on the soulless empire of ecocide. Candidate Barack Obama claimed he would help stop global warming and thereby make the ocean stop rising. As president, Obama stealthily championed fracking and offshore drilling, along with the national surveillance and police state that dismantled the Occupy camps and cordoned off the Standing Rock water and climate protectors."

We can all use a shot of hope. I got one from 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and the disproportionately youthful masses—4 million across 150 cities worldwide—who came out for climate sanity last week. I listened online to the speech Thunberg delivered to more than 300,000 mostly young people in lower Manhattan on Friday. She spoke eloquently about the supreme ecological danger we face, thanks to the relentless pursuit of profit and to the insincere assurances and pathetic inaction of politicians and policymakers the world over:

We have not taken to the streets, sacrificing our education, for the adults and politicians to take selfies with us and to tell us that they really, really, really admire what we do. We are doing this to wake the leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act. We deserve a safe future. Is that really too much to ask? … We will hold those who are most responsible for this crisis accountable and we will make the world leaders act. … Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us? That is being sold for profit. … Everywhere I have been, the situation is more or less same. The people in power, their beautiful words are the same. … The empty promises are the same. The lies are the same, and the inaction is the same.

Thunberg inspired me to walk out of my Chicago apartment building and make my way to the student climate strike at the Loop. There, I beheld a vast procession of mostly young people, including high school and even grade-school students, chanting and holding up signs with pithy slogans expressing a passionate desire to help keep the planet safe for humans and other living beings. The young people’s chants and cheers drowned out the roar of the L-trains above. I got in the middle of the march, talking to kids, asking them how their teachers felt about their afternoon off school (many were supportive), querying them, not as a journalist looking for a story, but as an old guy seeking an infusion of hope and energy from people who haven’t become as jaded, cynical and defeated as most of my generational cohorts. ...
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