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← If you adults won't save the world, we will

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Showing Revision 7 created 09/25/2020 by Erin Gregory.

  1. Dear Abuelita,
  2. I know I haven't been home for a while.
  3. You are in our lovely home in Mexico,
  4. and I'm here in the US,
  5. fighting for our future.
  6. You're probably watering the roses,
  7. taking care of the peaches
  8. and making sure your turtles are well-fed.
  9. That's one of the things
    I miss the most about home --
  10. spending time with the flowers
  11. while you tell me stories
    about your childhood.
  12. As you know, we have been living
    in New York City since 2015.

  13. But life has completely changed
    over the past year.
  14. At first, New York City was about museums
  15. and parks
  16. and school and friends.
  17. Now it serves as a web
  18. that connects me with all the other people
  19. who are organizing to save the planet.
  20. You know how it started for me?

  21. It was Dad and his wisdom.
  22. Everything you taught him,
    he went and taught the world.
  23. All of his words about
    the responsibility that we have as humans
  24. to live in balance with nature
  25. were passed down to me.
  26. I noticed the universal
    disconnect to our planet
  27. and remembered what you once told me:
  28. "Leave everything better
    than you found it."
  29. I know you were talking about the dishes,
  30. but of course, that applies
    to the planet as well.
  31. I didn't know what to do at first.

  32. The world is so big,
  33. and it has so many bad habits.
  34. I didn't know how a 15-year-old
    was supposed to change anything,
  35. but I had to try.
  36. To put this philosophy into practice,

  37. I joined the environmental club
    at my high school.
  38. However, I noticed that my classmates
    were talking about recycling
  39. and watching movies about the ocean.
  40. It was a view of environmentalism
  41. that was so catered towards
    an ineffective way of climate activism,
  42. one that blames the consumer
    for the climate crisis
  43. and preaches that
    temperatures are going up
  44. because we forgot to bring
    a reusable bag to the store.
  45. You taught me that taking care
    of Mother Earth

  46. is about every decision
    that we make as a collective.
  47. I am happy to tell you, Abuelita,
  48. that I changed everybody's
    mind in that club.
  49. Instead of talking about recycling,
  50. we started to write letters
    to our politicians
  51. to ban soft plastic altogether.
  52. And then, the unexpected happened:

  53. we started striking from school.
  54. I know you've probably
    seen it on the news,
  55. and maybe it's not that special anymore.
  56. But at the time,
    it was a huge deal, Abuelita.
  57. Imagine kids not going to school,
    because we want people to save the world.
  58. (Video) Crowd: Another world
    is possible! We are unstoppable!

  59. Xiye Bastida: For the first
    global climate strike,

  60. which was called on by Greta Thunberg,
  61. I got 600 of my classmates
    to walk out with me.
  62. Greta Thunberg is a teenager
    who first started striking for climate.
  63. Her boldness inspired me,
  64. and I was shocked by the realization
  65. that youth could turn
    public opinion on social issues.
  66. The movement exploded.
  67. (Video) Crowd: Shut it down!

  68. XB: And I became
    one of the main organizers

  69. for New York, the US and the world.
  70. (Video) XB: What do we want?
    Crowd: Climate justice!

  71. XB: When do we want it?
    Crowd: Now!
  72. XB: I started speaking up about
    climate justice and Indigenous rights

  73. and intergenerational cooperation.
  74. That was only the beginning, though.
  75. The busiest week of my life

  76. will forever be the week
    of September 20, 2019.
  77. Me and my friends got 300,000 people
    to strike for climate in New York.
  78. I wish you could have been there.
  79. We walked through Wall Street,
    demanding climate justice.
  80. (Video) Crowd: No more coal, no more oil,
    keep the carbon in the soil!

  81. XB: That same month, I went
    to the United Nations Climate Summit.

  82. I spoke on a panel with Al Gore.
  83. I met Jay Inslee and Naomi Klein
    and Bill McKibben
  84. and the president of the United Nations.
  85. It was the most amazing week of my life,
  86. because everyone I knew came together --
  87. all my teachers, all my classmates ...
  88. And even some of my favorite stores
    closed down to strike for climate.
  89. If you had asked me why I did all of that,
  90. my only answer would be,
  91. "How could I not?"
  92. It's been one year
    since it all started for me,

  93. and it gets a little tiring at times.
  94. But if there is one thing
    that you taught me, it's resilience.
  95. I remember that you went to Mexico City
    every day for 30 years
  96. to get money for the family.
  97. And I know that Abuelito
    has been going out for 20 years
  98. to protect sacred land from big companies
    that want to take it.
  99. A year is nothing
  100. compared to the struggles
    that our family has been through.
  101. And if our struggles
    make the world a better place,
  102. they will make us better people.
  103. There have been some hardships, Abuelita.

  104. Out there in the world,
  105. people expect us kids to know everything,
  106. or at least they want us to.
  107. They ask questions and I give answers,
  108. as if I really knew how the world works.
  109. They want hope, and we give it.
  110. I have organized, written, spoken
    and read about climate and policy
  111. almost every day for the past year.
  112. And I'm just a little worried
  113. that I won't be able
    to do enough, Abuelita.
  114. For me, being 18 years old
    and trying to save the world

  115. means being a climate activist.
  116. Before, maybe it meant
    studying to be a doctor
  117. or a politician or a researcher.
  118. But I can't wait to grow up
    and become one of those things.
  119. The planet is suffering,
  120. and we don't have the luxury
    of time anymore.
  121. Saving the world as a teenager
    means being good with words,
  122. understanding the science
    behind the climate crisis,
  123. bringing a unique perspective
    into the issue to stand out
  124. and forgetting about
    almost everything else.
  125. But sometimes, I want to care
    about other things again.
  126. I want to be able to sing
    and dance and do gymnastics.
  127. I truly feel that if all of us
    took care of the Earth
  128. as a practice,
  129. as a culture,
  130. none of us would have to be
    full-time climate activists.
  131. When businesses turn sustainable,

  132. when the power grid
    runs on renewable energy,
  133. when the school curriculum teaches us
  134. that taking care of the Earth
    is part of our humanity,
  135. maybe I can do gymnastics once again.
  136. Don't you think so, Abuelita?
  137. We can do this.

  138. All I'm trying to do with my work
  139. is give that optimistic mindset
    to other people.
  140. But it's been a little hard.
  141. There is greed,
  142. there's pride,
  143. there's money,
  144. and there's materialism.
  145. People make it so easy
    for me to talk to them,
  146. but they make it so hard
    for me to teach them.
  147. I want them to have the confidence
    to always do their best.
  148. I want them to have
    the heart and the courage
  149. to love the world,
  150. just like you taught me.
  151. I wrote this letter to thank you.

  152. Thank you for inviting me
    to love the world
  153. since the moment I was born.
  154. Thank you for laughing at everything.
  155. Thank you for teaching me
  156. that hope and optimism
    are the most powerful tools we have
  157. to tackle any problem.
  158. I do this work because you showed me

  159. that resilience, love and knowledge
  160. are enough to make a difference.
  161. I want to go back to Mexico and visit you.
  162. I want to show you the pictures
    of the things that I have done.
  163. I want to show you the climate legislation
  164. that we've been able to pass.
  165. I want to smell the flowers
  166. and fight for climate justice
    alongside you.
  167. Te quiero mucho.

  168. I love you.
  169. Xiye.
  170. [Te quiero mucho. Xiye.]