This article is part of The Nation’s 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, here.
The Radical Future of our Climate Is Now
Senior, Harvard College, and StudentNation contributor
I am 22 years old, and I have been a climate activist for ten years. My call is for a radical future now.
I look into my future, and I am scared. I know that climate change will define my life no matter what. I also know that this is true for everyone on our planet, especially the global poor on the front lines of fossil-fuel use.
Meanwhile, millions of people around the world unite to protect what they love. We insist on new institutions that respond to the climate crisis, enabling humans to prosper within Earth’s limits. We fight for a government that sees beyond short-term self-interest.
This future embodies different values that enable the turn away from a carbon economy and address root causes of the crisis. Equity, justice, life and empathy are at the core. Perhaps we can never fully achieve these values. Knowing that does not diminish their necessity. We must learn to value one another and our Earth in a different way.
If we relegate new values to an abstract, theoretical future, then they will always remain there. In the future. My radical now tries to bring this new moral framework into the present. Wave to the car that lets you cross the street; wave more vigorously at those choosing to take buses and trains to work; reach out to a friend whom you haven’t seen in a while; listen to all the voices in the room. The big things are equally important: create fiery campaigns that allow for all interests and levels of involvement; build a movement driven by “love for” not “fear of.” What we love can’t wait for the future.
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A Last Stand for Public Education
Junior, Columbia University, education reporter and StudentNation contributor
The struggle over “education reform” in this country is a last stand. Public education is one of the last great public assets in this country, not to mention one of labor’s last strongholds. Having taken almost everything else, Wall Street investors–turned–“education reformers” are increasingly looking to loot our community schools.
America’s public education system has always been rife with inequality, segregation and top-down management. But public schools have also historically been sites of community organizing and mobilization. At its best, public education has gone beyond mere job training, pushing students to work with each other to imagine a fairer, more equitable world. Thus it is not surprising that in schools being cut to the bone, from Chicago to Philadelphia to Newark, students are walking out and rising up.