On Friday the 20th of September, 150 countries went on strike in their cities. Here in Prague, I striked alongside school children and other professionals.
I consider myself an activist and always strive to work within a field that is aligned with my morals and values. Here at my current position in YEE, I am a volunteer. Though, I have a lot of responsibilities that I must attend to. Which leaves me with the question, is it professional to go on strike, even when I work for the planet?
Personally, I would say absolutely, but it comes with controversy. Thankfully, my supervisor was also at the strike and was fully supportive of it, so I didn’t have to worry about what my office would think. But morally, it felt a little strange that this was how I was spending my hours. Walking 6 miles around the streets of Prague screaming and holding up my (very well crafted) sign. Will it actually make a difference or am I wasting my time?
What has made me feel a little uncomfortable about the whole thing was actually how we perceive ourselves in the climate debate. There is a lot of criticism against climate activists and even businesses with a focus on the environment, yet aren’t we all ultimately striving for the same goal of survival?
Something that can explain this a little better is Eva Shiffers “net-map” tool. This was introduced to me during the Grassroots training hosted by my organisation earlier this summer. We used the tool to place where the different stakeholders were on their level of activism and influence. We then had an exercise of placing the supporters side on the level of influence through a series of defining characteristics. Such as the volunteer who only gives up some of their time when it suits them, the activist who is committed to the cause and the ones in the background, often NGO’s, who influence the decisions of people in power and gain momentum for their causes from volunteers and activists.
Due to entering NGO’s at a young age, I have come to realise that my role as an activist or volunteer isn’t nearly as high as it should be.
The march in Prague disappointed me a little. There were not nearly as many people as I would have hoped, especially when comparing it with other cities. But it made me realise that if my office hadn’t have attended, that would be even less people gaining the momentum that it deserved. All of the key players who support the same cause essentially have an effect on each other and if we don’t support each others actions then is it ever going to be successful?
Therefore I think that even if your organisation is not totally focused on the environment, as a collective, you are still a key player in the survival against climate change. It would be unprofessional of you not to support the climate strikes and get involved in just a small part of the cause. The strike is the least amount of commitment you can give, the next part is actually making changes to your work and lives.