By NOAH TAMAS-PARRIS
When I found out about this year’s United Nations climate report, I had a panic attack. I was pinned against the size of the world I lived in, shaking in the fear of my own smallness; little, little me against 7.6 billion people.
I saw the 12 (now less than 12) years we had to cut the world’s carbon footprint cut by nearly half. I saw how small that was. Everything was so hopelessly small. The chances of averting disaster seemed impossible. Trying seemed naive and pointless.
But I am sick of giving up. I am sick of not trying because “it won’t do anything,” as though that’s the end all, be all. I am sick of being a sniveling little wimp that lies down and resigns himself to the end of the world. I want action. I don’t care if it fails, I want to try. I need to try.
Because none of us, from the politician to the millionaire to the college student to every member of the working class, can afford to be bystanders in this final test of humanity.
Because it’s no longer feasible or acceptable for me to go about my life thinking someone else will fix the world’s problems for me. No longer can I afford to only think of myself. I need to be an agent of positive change just as much as everyone else, for there is not a single one of us whose door this will not knock on.
No longer can I afford to be inactive, and no longer can I afford to let others be inactive. I must always be acting, and I must always be speaking, no matter how miniscule every action and word may feel at times. Because no matter how miniscule a difference it makes, it will always be worth doing.
And there will always be something that I can do. Even if there are times I can’t think of anything, the thing I can do is find something I can do. “What can I do?” is a question I will never stop trying to answer.
I want not to worry so much. I want to believe that the problem isn’t as bad as it seems. But 25 years of denial is what got us where we are. We can no longer avoid the hard truth.
Because despite the seeming impossibility, my worry is not that it can’t be done, but that we will choose not to do it. For it was never that it could not be done, but for the past 25 years, we have chosen not to, be it because we felt we had no impact on the world around us, or didn’t believe we had the time, or simply did not think it was that big a problem.
These were all reasons I used to justify my own inaction, but I can no longer let it hold me back. I need to act as though the fate of the world rests on my shoulders; because it does. If I don’t fight with everything I have, how can I expect anyone else to do the same?
It won’t be easy either. I will need to sacrifice my time, my energy, and even my standard of living, all on top of stress of daily life. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about succeeding. it’s not even about making myself feel better. It’s about fighting with everything I have because I know there’s no other option.
That is why I can’t give up…
And neither can you.
A 2017 graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School, Noah Tamas-Parris is a Shelburne resident currently attending St. Johns College of Santa Fe, N.M.