Governing a city or country and having responsibilities for shared resources like the planet tend to vary between the generations. For example, the sentiment among many teenagers after the Brexit referendum in 2016 was ‘we don’t even have a vote yet, and we’re inheriting a mess that will last decades. You sold us down the river.’

So it is with the current environmental hand-wringing, where it takes a 16-year-old Swedish girl, speaking perfectly in her second language – or third for all I know – to agitate us adults of voting age and / or governing authority for genuine change.

You have this catch-22 situation. Older people have the power, authority and experience to govern and things like the environment are less of a concern for them because they’re not going to be around in 25-50 years time. Younger people are the ones who will shoulder the increasing burden throughout their lifetime, a burden which might not be recoverable, yet they’re not ready or given the chance to govern. People look after their own interests; it’s a natural, in-built, protective mechanism.

Plus, people in power need to see a return on their policies within their governing term, otherwise they won’t be in power much longer. They’re therefore less likely to enact change that will bear fruit for future generations, in half a century’s time.

I think this is why we’re starting to see the kind of language among younger people that incites civil disobedience. We’re approaching one of those inflexion points.

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