Over the summer, I took pleasure in reading the book “We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet” by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. From the very beginning, I loved the book. It was inspiring, empowering, and insightful. Xiuhtezcatl (‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’) is an indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. Amazingly, at the early age of six Xiuhtezcatl began speaking around the world. He has also worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained, and a temporary prohibition on fracking in his state. He is currently a lead defendant in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for their failure to protect the atmosphere for future generations. This is in terms of CO2 emissions, greenhouse gasses release, and any other harmful discharges of chemicals. As many people describe it, that is truly iconic.
So when I saw a poster promoting the sustainability lecture guest speak, I immediately got excited. The day of the lecture, I was surprised to see a full house of college students. It was really nice to know that the majority of the audience were between the ages of 18 and 22, that meant that the future generations were involved in learning more about environmental issues.
From the age of 12, I have always been interested in societal issues concerning the Earth. That was partly because I believed that the Earth deserved to be protected and fought for its integrity. For that reason, I decided to study abroad my Junior year of high school to Argentina. It was a community service and outdoor experience that set the foundation for the work I knew I wanted to continue doing. Similar to Xiuhtezcatl’s desire to better the state of the world for future generations, I too want to take part in our fight towards a more sustainable world. He writes “In 2015, I had just finished middle school, and the state of the climate was descending into chaos. That year, global temperatures were the hottest in recorded history, sea levels had reached an all-time high, and greenhouse gases had never been more present in our atmosphere. Climate scientists worldwide were alarmed by how much faster the ice caps were melting than previously projected.” From this, he tirelessly worked to become a role model for what a leader looks like. In his lecture, he thanked us all for coming out and taking an interest in restoring a broken Earth.
Similar to the people in The Stillness, Xiuhtezcatl is in a everlasting state of preparedness not for disaster but for restoration because he has hope for a better tomorrow. He says: “We’re up against a lot, but together we’ve got this. Movements can begin with one idea, one spark of inspiration, and one action. They catch fire when we unite around them. Each of us has a part to play, no matter how small. The solutions we create in our communities are the foundation for something bigger than us all.” He urged us to be leaders of the future and to forge our legacy for the individuals to come. It was really inspiring to hear him talk because I never thought those words could come from an 18 year old like himself. It gave me hope that my generation could make such a huge difference. I realized that I don’t have to necessarily sue the government or take on the big leagues but making small contributions matter too. I can pay attention to how I use water more often, I can walk rather than take a taxi (better yet use the underground system in my city), I can continue to and encourage others to recycle, etc. The small things that most people take for granted can make a world of a difference. On a larger scale, I can take up more eco-friendly hobbies such as upcycling, gardening, and volunteering at the local park. I can also join organizations and initiatives aimed to making a greater contribution to a more eco-friendly society. Whatever I end up doing, one thing is for sure: the ending remains unwritten because the actions I take will shape the world that the next generation inherits.