Young People's SOS
What moves the young? The view of a committed young person on the phenomena of the climate movement.
On Friday, 15 March 2019, 1.8 million pupils worldwide did not go to school; instead they took to the streets. They tried to find words for what lives inside them, what they experience and what they want to change: the world with its existential need for renewal. It is the first time in history that a " youth revolution " on this scale is being heard. Their urgent call to the older generation is to start acting consistently in the face of climate change. Many students suspect that much is no longer true, that the climate crisis is only the tip of the iceberg, the tip of a necessary, much deeper social transformation.
Why is such a large number of young people now on the move? Many of these young people do not experience the physical consequences of the climate crisis in their daily lives, but get the abstract information that our environment suffers through Facebook, Instagram, etc., platforms that they then use to organize themselves and come together. The empathy and moral quality of this generation seem to awaken at an early age.
More silence in a hectic world
Something very astonishing is however to be seen in this "youth shift". When I asked a group of protesting students what they wanted most of all, they said "more silence". More silence in a world of increasing hectic. More silence in a society where, for example, 25% of young students in the Netherlands suffer from burnout. More silence for a generation where anxiety is a daily reality.
How can it be that such a great inner emptiness has arisen in so-called civilized Europe? This phenomenon cannot be considered separately from the climate crisis. Not only the young people suffer from burnout, but the globalised environment itself struggles with burnout consequences. Not only at the level of the climate, but also at the economic, social and moral level. In many youth protests the sign "SOS" appears again and again. "SOS - Save Our Souls". The climate crisis is based on the existential question of what it means to be a human being in today’s world.
Is the world full or empty?
Looking at our history, some scientists today speak of a "full world", where we are said to have lived in an "empty world" in earlier times. Now full of people and consumption, formerly empty of people and consumption. Could it be that we live in the present in an empty world? In a world where young people go out on the streets on Friday instead of going to school and send an SOS into the world?
In the youth section we are working on these questions. We create an open space for ourselves, for the young generation, where no ideology, no dictum tells us what to do. It is a space in which we young people can work on a healthy vision of the future and sow the first seeds. One of the tangible projects is the February 2020 Days with the theme "Bound to Earth: Freedom, Responsibility and Destiny in Times of Climate Change".
One thing is clear: today's young generation is courageously facing up to the challenges and will no longer accept immoral conduct.
Johannes Kronenberg, Youth Section at the Goetheanum