Talking Without Action is Just Talk
Part of living is figuring out how the world works. Apparently, the media and those who follow news headlines prefer to rage on about global issues rather than actually do anything about solving them. On September 23, 2019 Greta Thunberg took to the world podium and addressed climate change. She angered activists and nonactivists alike. Her passion was evident in her speech, but her solutions, actions, and involvement were not. She stirred the political and environmental pot for millions, and piqued my interest with her now famous quote, “You have stolen my dreams and childhood with your empty words.” She got our attention, yet failed to offer any reasonable solutions to the thing she is most passionate about.
Other climate change activists have not only initiated ideas, but set their plans and solutions in motion — so why do they get so little recognition while Thunberg, who offers little more than “sound and fury,” — snags all the media attention?
A name you might not have heard of, Boyan Slat, a Dutch climate change activist who has come up with many ideas regarding the cleansing of oceans — including System 001 which was created in hopes of clearing out the Pacific garbage patch. He’s making great progress in combating climate change by cleaning our oceans. Or, there’s Saalumarada Thimmakka, a 106-year-old woman who has planted more than 8,000 trees in 80 years of her life, creating a 1360 acre forest since she started planting trees at age 17. My peers, all teenagers like myself, had no idea of who these people were when discussed, let alone what they’ve done, but all were familiar with Greta, who is known more for advocating for change than actually presenting feasible solutions.
The media’s tendency to recognize the squeaky wheels and radicals rather than working activists with solid, actionable plans is evidence of our human tendency to avoid providing or pursuing direct answers and direct solutions. We think that if we talk about how terrible an issue is, we have taken a major step in solving it. However, problems take action to really get solved.
This problem is especially prevalent on social media platforms. Modern-day activism aimed towards social and political problems now consists of people putting hashtags on tweets and not maintaining productive nor civilized conversations. This is not the way to solve the problems we all detest. There are big world issues out there that need to be addressed yet the best the average person does is to talk about it online.
The best way to fight climate change is to have plans and solutions and actively participate in combating the problems we want to solve. Being passionate and proactive about ethical ideas is admirable, but one can only go so far without taking real measures. Recognizing the consequences of the problems people create is the first step in solving them, but without true actions to make solutions for these problems, they cannot be solved.
Activists and media alike need to move on to the next step, and take action, not simply rage at the world for not doing more. People are good at complaining but if all one does is complain, there is little time to create steps forward in making positive changes. Changing things and starting new habits is very difficult, but as a society, we need to do more and expect more of ourselves and those around us. I propose we make it part of our daily lives to make small actions towards solving those big problems. That way we can get used to making changes while continuing to plan large actionable events or opportunities for things to be discussed and changed. It is ironic that I’m writing this since I am complaining about people talking and yet I too am talking. However, I want this to be a reminder to those that are inclined to read and maybe complain too, that there are changes we can all make to create the vision of life we want to see. It is easy to fall into the trap of posting on social media and feeling satisfied with what you’ve done, but it is not enough. There is a lot of work to do, especially for our environment and society, but that doesn’t happen on its own. We need to figure it out quickly as the problems only get bigger the more we avoid them. It takes many hard-working dedicated people to create change.
Kyle Jun-Seok Song has a voice that might surprise you. Kyle can be found singing in choir or debating his peers for thought-provoking fun. Kyle enjoys writing at home in Connecticut in his spare time and hopes to one day be a doctor.