17 Jan Feelings Going into 2017
So 2016 was perhaps just a little bit of a dumpster fire. I think that most of us, myself included are excited to have finally said goodbye to ‘16 because we were done with being 16 going on 17 and are ready for 2017. But what will 2017 actually bring? We enter this year in fear as new leaders take the global stage, as environmental policies are being thrown out the window, people are being disrespected, and the world seems to be chaos. In this time of immense change and uncertainty about the future, communities like iMatter are even more important. It is important that we stick together to fight the climate crisis, support each other and create real change.
I was going to try to put an upbeat spin about hope for the New Year, and hope that it couldn’t be any worse than 2016. But, that would be a lie. I am not optimistic, because the thought of what Trump might destroy progress-wise in the U.S., globally, and how he may influence Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step away from his position as a “climate leader” terrifies me. Because it feels like all of our work has been for nothing, that while we rise up and voice our opinions and demand that action be taken for our future, there are people in power that CAN and WILL throw out any of the small progress that has been made to protect our planet from climate change. And some days I can barely get out of bed, some days I can’t read or watch the news and hear of all the new cuts that Trump has proposed, or the new pipeline positive things that Premier Clark of BC and Justin Trudeau have said, sometimes I can’t fathom that 2016 was the newest hottest year on record, because it is overwhelming. Because it feels apocalyptic. Because it feels like whatever I am doing, however much I throw myself into climate action, it is not enough and it will never be enough.
But then, I am reminded that we’re all in this together. That even though the world is insane and it is hard to face, that there are others like myself who are facing it with me. That we, in this community of activists, in this culture of resistance, are building a support system and a revolution. That even though it doesn’t always feel like it, that we are all in this together. And we are creating change, and the movement is growing, and our impact is growing. And though there is that little voice in the back of my head saying “it will never be enough or fast enough” that little voice gets shut up when I hear my fellow youth leaders at iMatter, at school, at Divestment meetings, at Student Union meetings, at marches screaming out their message and demanding that their voices be heard. I see my friends, who I didn’t even really consider environmentalists reaching out to me about meetings and opportunities and telling me how they save paper towel in the bathroom and hate that it is so wasteful. I see networks being created, connecting youth and groups together across the continent. I see the colour green.
A couple months ago, I went to hear Tzeporah Berman, a major Canadian environmentalist, speak. After 5 minutes I was in tears as she showed the brutal realities of how awful the climate crisis is. Of how many people are suffering. And how we are not being listened to by our elected democratic governments. I held back tears the entire two-hour presentation, it was all I could do to not burst out bawling in the middle of the lecture hall or on my way back to my residence.
Once I got back to my room I joined the last half of an iMatter core team meeting and held back my tears through the discussion until the end when I was asked how the talk had been. It was then that those tears I had been holding back came out, I bawled on zoom in front of all of the other core team members! And I was met with friends who supported me, understood what I was going through, and checked up on me to make sure I was okay. I had friends who came and comforted me and supported me as I cried out at the unfairness of the world, and I had this community.
This wonderful community of amazing humans understood that sometimes the enormity of the issue catches up with you, and sometimes all you can do to help is be there for one another. You wouldn’t think that a group who communicates all online would be a real community, but my friends at iMatter have become my family and we all support each other through good times and bad.
I am a pretty visual person, and whenever I think about environmental action and environmentalists and awesome action and inspiring innovation my head alerts me using a bright green, I’m serious. When I’m freaking out it’s more a muddled brown of terror, but environmental action, and taking a stand for our future, turns my brain green. And it is a good feeling. It is exhilarating! I know that that sounds weird and it might not be easily understood but, for me it is a highest form of feeling.