By Rob Luzynski
Last month, I helped make history by attending the Peoples’ Climate March in New York City.
It still feels weird for me to say that. It’s not meant to be self-serving and the word “helped” is a generous term considering I was one of around 400,000 people that contributed to the effort. But I think it’s important that I remind myself of this every so often.
Organized by students with the help of the Ecology Center, my bus to the march consisted mostly of students from the University of Michigan. Seeing students of varying ages, majors, and backgrounds coming together for such a noble cause has made me feel more pride towards my school than any winning football record ever could. We are the next generation of passionate learners with a cause to fight for. We are invincible.
As great as that experience was, it was only a microcosm of what the march had to offer. Any spectator would soon understand the multi-disciplinary nature of environmental justice when they saw the march. The movement is tightly connected to a wide variety of social justice causes and other groups of people – veterans, students, mothers, politicians, children and everything in-between. They were all there. We were all there.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had heard of other marches of course, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened that day. New York City, an urban behemoth that to many symbolizes some of humanity’s greatest achievements and flaws, overrun with passion. A peaceful demonstration of discontent and hope, our power came from numbers, not through force. We marched in the present for the sake of the future – our future.
And when I say “our” it is an unrestricted pronoun. I don’t mean “our” like the people on the march, or even “our” in terms of the environmental justice movement. I am including every person on this planet (and other organisms, too).
The fight against climate change, or for environmental justice in general, is not always easy. There are battles that are difficult to win and there are times that the lone warrior can feel too small to make a difference. Against such powerful opponents and sometimes-intimidating odds, it is easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.
That being said, if there were weary hearts in the crowd on September 21st I think it’s safe to say that they now know at least one thing: they’re not alone.