A letter to my grandson in 2035
Just before your 4th birthday, Australia had a big election. A lot of us thought it was going to be around climate change and for a lot of us it was. But not everyone can see into the future easily, and lots of people are scared of change. Being able to adapt to change is so important. I am so proud of you when you notice you are struggling and can’t always get your own way, so you take yourself off and cool down and then come back and join in again with the conversation and the play. Being able to self-regulate and learn you can’t always get your own way was a fabulous skill and gift your Mum and Dad taught you. You are not scared of your own feelings when they bubble up and you get to know what they mean for you.
I am sorry my generation have left you with so much to deal with Archie. I ran out of puff more than once. I am so grateful for all those young students who took the streets long before they were old enough to vote, and by the time they got to vote, they were able to turn things around …. I just don’t know if they were able to do enough in time for you.
As your 16th birthday approaches, I am so grateful for all those lovely paintings you made for me when you were little, they help me keep seeing the world through your eyes. You did one for me once when you were three you called Black and Yellow Australia. You could see the sun rising and the night falling. It really helped me through some tough days after the 2019 election and a few more between then and now in 2035.
All I could see when I was sad for my country was two worlds – old over young, coal over climate, Presidential over team, known over unknown, comfort over risk, little over big, negative over positive, no policies over policies, men over women. I thought about your painting and realised black and yellow is not black and white – things are more complex than that. Yellow is the colour of hope, the colour of joy and happiness. It is also the colour associated with being a coward and often the colour for not being well, a bit jaundice giving you information that there might be something wrong with your liver, gall bladder or pancreas. Yellow is a paradox.
I did get more active on climate and helped out some of the students in the strikes for climate change, I cheered madly with the lovely Greta got a Nobel Prize and was so inspired when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest US President ever. So I know it wasn’t all lost, but I felt pretty sad and a bit hopeless the day after the 2019 election.
I knew then, as a I know now, hope is not a substitute for action. And if you do want something to happen about what matters to you, you have to put your shoulder to the wheel, join with others and mobilise. And the lesson I learnt and hope you learnt too is: Don’t give up, get organised. Let sparks fly and glow with the yellow light shining on and through you.