“We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg addressing COPOUT 24 in Katowice, Poland.
When I found out that COP24 was being sponsored by Poland’s largest coal mining corporation, I recognized that, beyond the macabre Polish joke, nothing would ever be accomplished there other than the usual yakayakayak accompanying all the other yakyak COPOUTs that have preceded it.
Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg addressed a world body. She is calling for a world-wide global climate strike. And 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died last Thursday in ICE custody. Children have become very powerful. Powerful in two ways: They have ideas, and have less trouble calling bullshit. And children of color when they grow up screw the U.S. voting apparatus.
|Rest in peace: Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7 years old|
How can the “we” Greta Thunberg refers to do what adults cannot? Perhaps children have the global imagination to evoke scenes like those pictures we used to see in the 40s and 50s of thousands of Chinese at work with their bare hands and their wheelbarrows, building the largest dam in the world—up to that point. Because that is the magnitude of the effort the human race is being called upon to exert now if we have a shred of a chance left to reverse climate change: whole neighborhoods in every city on earth collectively fixing solar panels to every roof. Everyone working, hauling hardware and panels, assisting installers climbing and straddling rooftops, passing up material, equipment and hardware, teams cooking in vast communal kitchens, feeding all the workers lunch and dinner. Grand-parents minding children, keeping them fed and amused while younger adults work together to accomplish this Herculean task, the task of equipping every single roof throughout the world with solar panels. And that is only one effort among many other possible ones, such as installing solar powered batteries to refuel electric cars and solar powered trains and planes. And supporting efforts such as repurposing private institutions to serve as local banks to bankroll the greater effort. And demanding that public utilities supplant sclerotic corporate utilities, such as PGE, with a new death toll of 88 to its credit and now demanding a rate hike to kill off more of us.
|Greta Thunberg rivets the Secy with a stern rebuke|
The world already has examples of this kind of mega collective practice. For example, in the city of Djenné in Mali, every inhabitant collaborates once a year in a festival known as Le Crepissage de La Grande Mosquée to replaster it. The young men climb the protruding side pegs, plastering the walls, the old men scree the roof, children lead mules carrying heavy baskets of wet plaster to the site. Women pound the corn and prepare vast cauldrons to feed the workers. The whole city engages.
Children have the imagination to conjure up a world where people scrap their cars entirely. Make no mistake, the world already has an example of the magnitude of sacrifice that requires an entire people to surrender the deeply embedded cultural practices that have been theirs for as long as 500 years. Here I cite the example I blogged about last September 15th, of the Agami, a small tribe in Nagaland, a far north state of India. Although hunting was once their important source of livelihood, and had been their practice for hundreds of years, some 20 years ago they gave up this culturally-entrenched practice because they understood that their prey were becoming endangered species, and would no longer form part of their ecosystem if they were hunted to extinction.
The magnitude of the threat of climate collapse is the equivalent now of the Earth colliding with a large meteor, but apparently only children are capable taking it seriously, let alone imagining the scope of such a calamity. Adults, entirely bound in the prevailing culture, are barely able to check their cell phones for the latest Facebook post.
Besides threatening the Earth's entrenched fossil fuel culture few adults have the imagination to shake, children of color are a threat to the U.S. establishment voting demography as well, now that demography has shifted with numbers of people of color overtaking the numbers of their White Protestant overseers, and gumming up the voting works.
That is why children of color are being deported. They have become as expendable as anyone else suffering under the oppression of genocide and ethnic cleansing: Palestinian people, boat refugees crossing the Mediterranean on overcrowded rubber rafts, or caravanning to the U.S. Mexico Border, migrants world over, some of them battling, most of them fleeing the consequences of colonialism and global warming, drought, flood, fire, and famine, and their pauperizing consequences.
|Protesters kneeling before the CBP agents at the border|
That is why a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl was allowed to die, severely dehydrated, in the detention holding pens of the Department of Homeland Security under its “director,” Kirstjen M. Nielsen, who declined anything close to an apology or accepting responsibility, let alone an expression of regret that this death occurred on her watch, and ought to have been averted, but blamed the father of the child instead.
At the urging of Congressperson Joaquin Castro, an investigation has been launched, but no investigation can re-unite this child with her grieving father and mother or assuage every single one of us, citizens of the U.S. who grieve for her and for our country. For starters, why not write to the good Secretary and her CBP commissioner henchman, Kevin McAleenan and let them know exactly how you feel: Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, Washington D.C. 20528-0075. Kevin McAleenan, Customs and Border protection, 1300 Pennsylvania AV, NW, Washington D.C. 20229. Cite a story to get your point across. They may be heartless, but maybe not illiterate. We leave that to #45. Allow them five business days to respond but don’t hold your breath. Pinpoint the location of your nearest ICE headquarters instead. Organize a demonstration outside, and use public transportation or a bicycle to get there. Raise bloody hell. Repeat. Repeat after that. Call for an end to our homegrown Homeland Gestapo. And don’t go home till it’s zeroed out.
Demand that the immigrant children’s prison in Tornillo Texas be shut down now and for good at
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