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Glasgow’s Beautiful Strike

I was very emotional for most of the walk from Kelvingrove Park to George Square. I shed a few tears,watching and listening to young people & children who really, cynical oldies NEED to listen to. Let’s not be the generation who patronised the we’ans, “awww’d” at their cute signs, and then left them a dying world.

Before I set out, I watched one of the “important people,” a CEO of the corporation that owns IKEA, speak of his concerns and his pledges on the BBC, but prevarication when asked about growth that is created by constantly telling people to consume more. He also faltered when confronted by the fact that @IKEA are opening a big new store in Central London, creating more traffic, and adding to “growth,” ie a consumerism that is literally consuming the planet.

I’m a veteran of marches… from peace marches in Northern Ireland during the troubles, through to various demos in recent history from the massive Stop the War Coalition march in 2003 the various G8 actions in 2005, marches against various 

Westminster political chicanery, Yes marches leading up to the 2014 referendum, Scottish CND marches, Strikes, etc etc etc. This was the most hopeful, positive coming together I have experienced.

I’m a teacher, and for over two years in the lead-up to this, my classes learned about climate change and demonstrated in the area they lived, made videos and from the early days due to First News, they followed Greta Thunberg and her school strikes, her speeches and actions along the way, and I have to say, some of the children absolutely idolised her. She helped feed their enthusiasm – and enthusiastic they have been…

And I saw thousands of young people like them today, the future. And it looked like a real turning point; a future that is understood… complicated political issues understood… and I felt, unlike me and others who suffered the awfulness of Thatcher, and unlike the generations fooled into voting for corrupt Governments and millionaire enriching cons like Brexit, this generation really will change things.

A few weeks back I had cycled over to my Hometown of Banbridge to visit family. One of the days I was there, I saw this odd metal ball, with a man inside roll along the Seapatrick Road into Seapatrick Parish Church. On looking this event up online, I found out that it was an artist, Arnd Drossel, who was rolling inside a metal ball for 1500 miles, to highlight the issue of Climate change… I met Arnd today, and Hugo who was with Arnd and the others. Hugo had walked a very indirect route to #COP26, calling into small towns and villages on the way, quietly conversing with people, letting them know about the COP, and of the issues. Changing the world through quiet conversation… and he and those around Arnd, choosing art and awe to create and sustain a conversation.

Look… please visit their twitter. Take their pledge to do SOMETHING to change your world. @mypromise_earth

I met Vegans against climate action, whose banner I was only too glad to sign; I saw many well kent faces from demos throughout the years. But better still, I heard children’s voices shout new phrases. Small voices that to me drowned out the competing political sects and their piledriver loudspeaker amplified slogans… and utterly shamed the men (because most of them, by far, are men) in the SECC self aggrandising, self promoting and saving capitalism.

And we arrived in George Square, the noise was incredible (though the part of the crowd I was in was utterly, devastatingly disappointed when the boom box belting out Fat Boy Slim died…). Young people instagramned photos as the various speakers brightened the stage, spreading the messages complex and simple across their world… voices that were mostly young, mostly female and mostly disenfranchised by capitalism. But what voices! Beautiful, expressive emotive, voices full of fight and vigour. Voices that reminded me of young people I have taught.. the ones who rail out across the classroom at injustice. Strong voices that shouted, “HEAR US! WE ARE HERE TO SAVE OUR WORLD!”

And we stood in silence, listening to the messages from the Amazon, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Indonesia… the atrocities capitalism… economic growth, profiteering, and exploitation mete out on beautiful people.

And then Greta Thunberg. After all of these months of teaching the Global Goals and about climate change and climate and social justice and equality, equity and activism, and Greta being an ever present part of our classes, watching young people enraptured as she spoke.. hanging on to those words. And I watched as the light of activism that will, I have no doubt save us, spark in their eyes and minds… again I was in tears.

This was a beautiful day, dominated by the voices we had to hear from the places that are  most effected by Climate disasters created by us. This was not a day for loud, shouty men urging us to follow them. This was a day of the young, a day of people’s from low income countries to tell our high income countries to stop the rape of the planet. This was a day when the patriarchy was on the back foot… a day that really was a lesson we in Glasgow really will never forget. 

By N Scott

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