In 1988 one of the most popular films to be released in the United States was Big, a comedy featuring a fresh-faced Tom Hanks as the kid who is turned away from a carnival ride for being too short and subsequently puts a coin in a fortune teller machine and makes a wish to be ‘big’. The next day he wakes up and discovers he’s transformed into a 30-year old man.
I am beginning to wonder if such a fortune teller machine lurks in the corner of a games arcade somewhere in Britain and that the government and parliament are actually made up of a bunch of kids.
For how else to explain the topsy-turvy world we currently inhabit, where elected politicians whose responsibility it is to ensure that Britain doesn’t fall off a cliff are so busy bickering with each other like a bunch of mean schoolgirls, that it looks more likely than ever that they’ll push the country over that very edge?
A world where the real adult in the room is a 16-year old girl with Asperger’s who doesn’t shy away from telling the world’s elite at Davos that they’re hypocrites. A world whose only superpower is run by a gun-loving, bigoted charlatan with a fake tan and where real leadership and wisdom is represented by a group of teenagers who survived a mass shooting at their school in Parkland, Florida and subsequently lead a protest movement against gun violence in the US.
On second thought, comparing the political and financial elite to a bunch of children is grossly unfair to the many kids the world over who inhabit vastly more sense than the adults in charge.
Look at the response to the climate change crisis; while the adults are still debating the issue, thousands of children across the world are following in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old Swedish climate change activist, and organising mass school strikes to protest the lack of decisive action by governments to prevent the earth from overheating.
As for Brexit, a vast majority of young Britons are dead against their country leaving the European Union. They don’t believe in unicorns, and the empty promises of politicians do not fool them. They know that there’s no conceivable way they will be better off in Brexit Britain, deprived of the many freedoms that EU membership bestowed upon them.
My daughter likes to tell me that she’s smarter than I am because a child’s brain is more elastic than an adult’s brain.
“I can think outside the box in a way you can’t,” she says, and she’s right. I dare say she’s right to claim she’d make a better prime minister than the one we currently have.
Judging by the damage adults have inflicted on the earth and each other for far too long, it stands to reason that the older generations ought to give way to the young since it’s our children and grandchildren’s future we’re dealing with. Is it really so fanciful to suggest that children should have a real say in their future, given the mess their parents and grandparents have left in their wake? For the sake of us all, let’s hope that 2019 will see an explosion of young activists unafraid to hold the older generations to account.
You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Greta Thunberg