Get out of their way
By Chad Ingram
A distasteful trend as of late has been the number of adult residents of the county who seem to think nothing of insulting and mocking local teenagers on social media because they disagree with them.
What I’m referring to are the Facebook comments that unfailingly appear any time we publish a story about local young people holding climate change protests.
A few such events took place throughout the last school year, and late last month, another, involving students demonstrating alongside other members of the community, took place outside the high school.
There is a global movement taking place, with demonstrations around the world pushing national governments to take stricter action against climate change. Many school boards have sanctioned demonstrations. Last week, classes were cancelled in Montreal as 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg led a climate march of tens of thousands of people through the city. Thunberg had addressed the UN and U.S. Congress just days before.
I’m not going to publish any of the comments here, nor the names of those who make them, although it’s interesting to observe I could do both. Media laws in this country mean that anything that can be found publicly on social media can be reprinted, right here, with no permission.
Some of the comments critical of students often tend to skew something along the lines of “these irresponsible kids probably just want to skip class,” and maybe some of them do. However, it’s a near certainty that the students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School understand more about science and the global impacts of climate change than their online detractors. Likely much, much more. Critics quick to point out that students should be in class seem to be blind to the notion that it’s what they’re learning in class that has led them to the sidewalk in the first place.
Critics might consider that young people are angry as they learn about an international system of government and business that prioritizes endless economic growth over environmental sustainability.
They might consider that those students are going to have to face the implications of climate change – everything from species extinction to potential food shortages to higher and higher living costs – for decades after most of them have, well, let’s say taken the big nap.
You want to deny climate change? That’s fine, I guess.
You want to think to yourself that climate change protests are a waste of time and that students involved in them are irresponsible? Fine, too.
But there is no need for any adult person to take time out of their day to take to social media to run down a group of kids for standing up for something they believe in. It’s a sad display.
You don’t want to applaud them? Fine. But at least get out of their way.