“Such is the upside-down, topsy-turvy state of our world that the children are now the adults and the adults are the children.”
So leads Jonathon Freedland in his recent article in the Guardian titled - The school climate change strikes are inspiring – but they should shame us
I’ve written before about the school climate change strikes and other climate action volunteering but there seems to be so little if any scrutiny or discussion about this form of volunteering within the volunteering or volunteer management sector itself.
We boast when we talk about “new and emerging trends” that we are way ahead of them or at least anticipating them but we are still stuck in a quagmire of volunteer management discussion focussing on us and our struggle to be taken seriously. Perhaps the emperor has no clothes.
Meanwhile, and pardon the French, the world is facing a shit storm. It’s called climate change. It is real, it is threatening and it should be frightening the socks off you all.
It is frightening our youth enough, that they have opted to volunteer for a noble cause…like…saving the planet for their future.
As Freedland goes on to say “It has fallen to those so young they are not trusted to decide what they can eat or when they can go to bed to sound the alarm about the crisis that matters most: the crisis of the climate.”
How soon will it be before more Not for Profits take up the cause of fighting to save the planet. If they are now fighting for humanitarianism, for alleviation of poverty or for social justice or for refugees how soon will it be before they realise that it all will be further interconnected by the crisis that is not around the corner but here now. This is not a long stretch of the bow.
Back to Freedland’s article “Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, an early and tireless environmental advocate, is right to say that the #FridaysForFuture movement is “not the first great change to begin with the action of just one person”: from Abraham onwards, our history and tradition is full of people who, alone at first, changed the world.”
How often in our speeches and writings and blogs and newsletters do we write “Volunteers change the world?”
And yet, with this volunteering movement growing around the world why do we seem to be missing its significance? What can we as a sector learn about;
· Volunteers self-organising
· Organising at scale
· Motivation of young people
· Mass civil action
· Innovative modes of management
· The power of social media to mobilise volunteers.
Yes there are critics of these new movements springing up and a certain cynicism about youth action and you can read about those in the article as well. And yet we have heard that cynicism in the Volunteer management world as well. We have all come across one of these statements
“Young people are not reliable volunteers”
“Never take on students”
“Young people don’t stay”
“Young people are doing volunteering for selfish reasons”
And we may face cynicism in our own sector as well about the very notion that this is a volunteering movement. Some will argue that it is activism rather than volunteerism.
In a separate article written for the Guardian George Monbiot wrote about these children leaving their classes to protest against climate change - My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back
“The Youth Strike 4 Climate gives me more hope than I have felt in 30 years of campaigning. Before this week, I believed it was all over. I thought, given the indifference and hostility of those who govern us, and the passivity of most of my generation, that climate breakdown and ecological collapse were inevitable. Now, for the first time in years, I think we can turn them around.
By combining your determination and our experience, we can build a movement big enough to overthrow the life-denying system that has brought us to the brink of disaster – and beyond. Together we must demand a different way, a life-giving system that defends the natural world on which we all depend. A system that honours you, our children, and values equally the lives of those who are not born. Together, we will build a movement that must – and will – become irresistible.”
By combining your determination and our experience! What can our sector learn from this powerful sentiment?
Can we see the trees for the forest before there are no trees left at all?
The volunteer sector needs to be discussing this. The silence is deafening.