Last Friday, September 20th, children and students became leaders. They became leaders who stood up for our future, our present, and the earth’s existence as we know it. Mother’s carrying infants, toddlers wobbling along, Madras school children nervously joining in, and St Andrews University students calling for change in bold, demanding voices, all marched through the streets of St Andrews.
Starting at Sally’s Quad, hundreds of children, students and adults gathered together, and regardless of age, nationality, position or background, called for action.
Climate change can seem so abstract. No one wants to claim responsibility for the calamities devastating the Earth, because no one sees it as their fault. Just as buying too much food as Tesco and then throwing it out a week later seems disconnected to the 9 million people who die of hunger a year, the little ways in which we fail to take responsibility for our part in saving our future seems disconnected to the fires in the Amazon or the dangerous level of greenhouse gasses being emitted. The Climate Change march which took place on Friday signaled that people, particularly young people, in St. Andrews and around the globe claimed the obligation to change our future when so many of the world’s leaders will not.
As the entourage of protestors marched down North Street, students on their way to the library paused to watch. At the encouragement of their friends participating in the march, some onlookers joined in and became a part of the call for change. A few lonely student bystanders watched disapprovingly, shaking their heads bitterly and turning up their noses at their classmates. Even in this generation, a time of awareness and answerability, the haughty attitude of the past lingers in the mindsets of some of our peers. The attitude of immunity from the consequences of past damages, done by our predecessors, still blinds many in our communities. The Climate Change march called for an end to this anesthetized mindset.
The March continued past the St Andrews Castle and Cathedral, looping down South Street and across to Market. Tourists and shopkeepers stopped to film as chants such as “The oceans are rising and so are we” echoed against the stone buildings. People watched from windows and doorways as most drivers waited patiently for the march to pass, offering high-fives and words of encouragement. However, one driver charged his way forward, forcing school children to jump out of the way as he blared his car horn.
The march culminated on West Sands, as members of local government and North-East Fife MP Stephen Genthins offered praise for the people, young and old, calling attention to the disastrous state of affairs in which we find our Earth. If nothing else, this march proves that we can make a change, we can make a difference for our future and the future of our children. Not only can we find small ways in our personal lives to take responsibility for our futures, we can find big ways to demand action from law makers and leaders. This was one march organized by members of our university community, but who will organize and lead the next march? Who will step up next to demand change in loud and bold letters. Who will stand up for their future?
As the marchers paused for silence and contemplation, looking out over the North Sea, the words which they had chanted seemed to linger in the air – “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.”