We were caught in the middle of a protest march. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. The weather was sunny and comfortable, and the protesters, mainly teens and college students, seemed nice and polite.
A couple of weeks ago, Terri and I were up in Boone, checking out the cooler mountain air. As I parked our car downtown late Friday afternoon, I noticed the crowd over at the library across the street.
I found out that there was going to be a march that afternoon in support of climate change advocacy. There were probably a couple hundred protesters marching up the main street in Boone. We weaved our way through the crowd to the restaurant, and later watched them as they came back down the street. It made for an entertaining meal.
The march was part of Global Climate Strike which encouraged students to skip school that day, and march in protest to the lack of legislation to combat climate change. (It used to be called global warming, but that has changed. The name change makes it easier to place blame for any variations in the weather.) The students in Boone waited until school was out that afternoon to do their march.
Why were these primarily young people marching? For some, it was something to do with their peer group. In other words, their crowd was doing it, it seemed cool, and it was something to do. (Hey, I was young once and remember those days.) For others, it was a way to go against the older generation and those in authority. (Young people have always enjoyed doing that.)
But for many, they marched because they were legitimately concerned about their future. They hear their favorite politician and their favorite celebrity say that the world has only twelve years to deal with climate change, or it’s too late. They hear about a future with the oceans rising, glaciers melting and killer heat waves and drought. And to them, their future looks dim.
We all should be good stewards of this planet we have been given. Wise use of our natural resources is always a good idea. But if there has been a rise in the earth’s temperature over the past decades, how much of it is due to us humans, and how much of it is due to nature? I suppose I am suspicious of the twelve year prediction because I can remember reading in the eighties, “expert” predictions that Miami and New York would be under water because of global warming by 2010.
But those young folks who were marching in Boone and across the world that Friday are worried about their future. And maybe they do need to march out of concern for the future environment in which they will live. But there are other things maybe they should be marching about.
That same day, the front page headline in the “USA Today” newspaper read, “Student debt at record $29,200.00” That’s the average amount college graduates owed for their education after graduation in 2018. On top of that personal debt, they are heading off to their careers in a country where the U.S. national debt is well over $22 trillion, and is expected to increase at least a trillion a year for many years in the future.
So the young people are, and should be, concerned about their future. And they are looking to the older generation for answers and action. More than anything, they want the truth. But often, they are ignored, or the only answers they get are from people and organizations that want to manipulate them for their own personal advantage.
This is not new. In 1970, Johnny Cash recorded a song defining that turbulent era, with the line, “And the lonely voice of youth cries, what is truth?” I was a teenager during that time asking the same question. I would discover the answer for me a couple of years later. The answer would be from Jesus who declares, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
What is truth? Young people today want to know. And they don’t want to be ignored or manipulated. The last line from the Johnny Cash song is a command and a warning. It simply states, “You better help the voice of youth find, ‘What is truth?’”
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at [email protected]