The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

We don’t live forever, our legacy does

Camilla Appelgren Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 09:08 Last update: about 3 months ago

Lately, after going out as an MEP candidate with environment at heart, I’ve had so many discussions about if we really can save the human race. It’s no longer about saving the environment, because it will recover once we leave. It is now about saving us, before it’s too late. There seems to be an overall view that we can’t change anything, that we are too late. Well to be honest, we might be. However, that doesn’t mean we should sit back and do nothing. We have a responsibility to at least do our best. I usually compare it with the fact that we all know that we will die and still we try to live as long as we can. Very few would say “I’m going to die anyway, so why try to live”.

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Last week I did school talks about the environment, the students were from age 7 up to 18. They know so much and believe me, they are very well aware of the crisis they are facing. The only thing they are missing, dear reader, is the empowerment from the adults. Too many adult role models are taking the back seat in this fight and showing the children nothing else than how to give up.

Us adults created this mess, not them. They are now part of the mess since we brought them up to continue being so, with some exceptions of course. We can’t undo what’s been done, but we can for sure change the path we take going forward. We will not be around forever and it’s the youth who will have to take the biggest fight for survival in the future, not us. What we can give them though, is the knowledge and willpower to solve it. That is the least we can do, don’t you think so?

During my talks I’ve met so many wonderful teachers who really are those exceptions mentioned above. Teachers who have daily battles with administrations and they are doing an amazing job. But what happens when the students, after environment classes, realise that the school isn’t recycling its waste, that some of the teachers themselves are not willing to be part of the solution and nor do their parents. We can only hope that that one teacher has a great enough impact on the student for him or her to stand up against the wrongdoings of others. We need the generation of tomorrow to be those “lone nuts” starting the movement without fearing judgement, then we need the other ones understanding the importance of being the “crazy follower”. We need to teach our children the importance of persistence and to go for what they believe in, even if against the stream.

The younger school children I speak to, the less of a PowerPoint presentation I use. The young children have a big need to feel, touch and see. It’s the best way of making them understand and make them curious. When it comes to older students, especially those who have been told they can give up, we need to show them the reality. If not doing so during an outdoor class, at least with a movie. I showed the older student a movie clip about seabirds and plastic. To start with the crows was chit-chatting quite some, movie time usually has that effect. I never tell them off, I know what is to come and by letting them talk in the start I can measure the effect more easily. Then suddenly the bird vomits plastic and the crows chit-chat a bit more silently. The bird dies and the researcher opens up the bird and with her hands pulls out handful after handful of plastic. Yes it’s graphic, I think even you can see this picture in front of you just by reading it. The crowd went silent and my mission was completed. For now.

We can’t keep the reality away from the ones that will have to pull up their sleeves to save it. We need them to be part of the change today, not in ten years time. We need the adults to open their eyes and stop wrapping their children in cotton to such extent that we do them harm.

It is indeed a negative feeling seeing that videoclip, hence I always make it a point to finish my talks in a positive way by empowering them. I give them the tools of how they can create a change, but also how they can be the change they wish to see. It’s their future, who are we to steal it?

The job of a parent boils down to one single task, your offspring should survive. No matter what you believe will happen, make it your task to empower your child to safeguard what’s left.

Camilla Appelgren is a PD candidate for the EP election

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