There’s a little group of people who are very special to me.
Between them, they embody all of my favourite things: fun, honesty, faith, integrity, friendship, ambition, creativity, and a determination to see the world become a more beautiful and fairer place for everyone. Especially for those who live in poverty because of human systems and structures.
The best part is, I get to work with and be inspired by some of these people every day. The rest are spread out across the country. Some I know, many I don’t. They are students, youth groups, interns, volunteers, campaigners, fundraisers, writers, speakers and activists.
They – we – are the Christian Aid Collective, a movement of mostly under 25-year-olds (though some with a little more experience now…) who believe we’re made for more than mediocrity and more than injustice. It’s one of my favourite privileges to blog for them. Today’s blog appears on their site, here.
The doctors had explained to me very gently what was going to happen. My nose didn’t work properly when I was born, so now four years later they were going to fix it. They’d send some special medicine through a tube in my hand, and before I could count to ten, I’d be fast asleep.
Ha. I crossed my little arms and dug my heels in. There was absolutely not a chance I was going to fall asleep. They chuckled at my sulky defiance and told me there was no use resisting, it was inevitable. But I showed them. The anaesthetic went in, and I sat bolt upright on the bed to start counting. I’ve never felt so triumphant as when I reached ten and saw the baffled look on their faces as they cancelled the operation. I’d won.
Stubbornness, persistence, resistance. Whatever you want to call it, it can be an annoying trait in a four-year-old patient. I hate to think what I cost the NHS. But it’s a very useful trait when it comes to changing the world. Sometimes, despite the naysayers, we have to cross our arms, dig our heels in, and say this is so important that we can’t fall asleep.
Climate change is that important.
On 23 September, Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General to the UN) is holding a Climate Summit in New York. Yes, yet another meeting. I’ll be honest – it can feel like these world leaders from governments, finance, business and civil society, are always meeting up to have a chat about climate change, and never getting anywhere.
Every time, we write letters, we pen persuasive Tweets, we share articles and blogs, we even get on our knees and pray that this time they’ll take decisive action to cut carbon emissions and protect the poorest people in the world from the effects of our lifestyles.
It can get a little disheartening to feel ignored. It’s very easy to become numb to the problems we’re trying to change.
But if the great campaigners of the past have taught us anything, and if my four-year-old self was here to give her words of wisdom, it’d be this:
Stay awake! Don’t give up! Don’t let the anaesthetic get to you!
The movement is growing. We’re making an impact. And it’s worth pressing on. For the love of the millions of people affected by climate change, for the future of our planet, for everything we’d lose if we keep silent, it’s worth drawing new breath, planting our feet on the ground, and making the loudest noise we can again and again, until we crack this.
So, Ban Ki-moon and the leaders of our nations are coming together next week, and thousands of us are going to let them know we’re watching. On Sunday 21 September, we’re joining a whole host of other charities, faith groups, campaigners, students, pensioners, and everyone in between. We’ll march through London and raise our voices and shout out for justice.