What if we treated Climate Change with the same gravitas as Easter or war?
Remember two months ago when everyone was up in arms about school kids organising a one-day strike for climate justice? Various media pundits were blasting the kids for being both lazy and overly optimistic, and worst of all - trying to get a day off of school.
Well, we just shut down the country for three days last week without batting an eye. Those same media outlets were running stories on how people could get 10 days off by using only two days vacation.
I don't get it.
Well, I mean, I do get it, actually. I grew up going to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and went to youth group. Coming from a religious family, I truly understand the good that comes from both a deep faith and the support of a church community. I get it.
But, according to the 2018 McCrindle Report only 33 per cent of New Zealanders identify as Christian. The rest of the 66 per cent us are really just in it for the chocolate eggs and days off.
Even in America, the country with the largest, and most vocal Christian population in the world, Good Friday isn't a public holiday and liquor sales and trading aren't banned on Easter Sunday. New Zealand's cultural dedication to the sanctity of Easter seems misplaced, at best.
The Easter holidays were bolstered this year by their proximity to Anzac Day, a public holiday that commands us to celebrate "Lest We Forget". This is an interesting slogan choice for me though, because it seems like much goes unsaid in the patriotic fervour that sweeps over NZ during Anzac celebrations.
In an effort to pay respect to the people who were devastated by the wars, we paint a black-and-white portrait of good vs evil. We declare the need to remember how awful global war is, while using nostalgic rhetoric to talk about "The Lost Generation" and "The Greatest Generation".
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I know it isn't a popular opinion, but I wonder if the way that we celebrate Anzac and the type of language used has the intended effect, or if it simply makes young people think that war is something that happened long ago and far away to our grandparents.
The kids have off of school for mass-extinction day - let's go to the bach for the weekend.
Without diminishing the cultural and spiritual significance of Anzac or Easter, I can tell you for a fact that there is a current event going on in our lives that will affect all of humanity ... climate change.
Species are dying, seas are rising, ice is melting. The planet is dying, and we are shutting down the country to eat chocolate eggs and have a lie-in.
Imagine if the whole country did a one-day strike for climate justice, never mind three days!
Sorry, no work today, we're taking action for the environment.
Want to buy a beer? Sorry, you'll need to wait until tomorrow - it's climate day.
The kids have a day off school for mass-extinction day - let's go to the bach for the weekend.
I'm definitely waking my kids up for the dawn service in remembrance of the species lost this year.
In 100 years time will there be a shift in cultural priorities so that we have a public holiday recognising the people who have lost their lives directly or indirectly because of climate change?
When we talk about the horrors of war, will there be recognition that climate change was a primary contributing factor to the war in Syria? Will there be a public holiday celebrating those who are raising their voices today in protest and opposition in a cultural climate that wants to bury its head in the sand?
Hundreds of thousands of such people gathered over Easter week in cities around the world using civil disobedience to cause disruption on a mass level demanding action for the environment.
In London the Extinction Rebellion blocked access to the stock exchange, shut down intersections, disrupted buses and glued themselves to trains in an effort to give the country pause.
Here in NZ peaceful actions took place in cities up and down the country ranging from occupations of council buildings, blockades of intersections in Auckland, and a protest on the steps of Parliament.
There's no fantastical large bunny with a basket full of chocolate eggs at climate protests. There's no hopeful message about the glory days when we talk about mass extinction.
But still, there are people putting their safety on the line, and standing up in protest around the world. These professionals, teachers, lawyers, parents, builders, students used their "days off" to take action.
It looks as though The School Strike for Climate and Extinction Rebellion's actions of disruption have made a difference. In the UK Parliament on Wednesday, MP's endorsed a motion by Jeremy Corbyn to formally declare that the country is in a state of climate and environmental emergency.
Let's hope that this declaration of emergency brings with it the dedication of time and resources that is necessary to mitigate climate disaster. If not, let's continue to use our "days off" to work towards environmental justice.