Well said Michael Mopurgo. This multi-faceted author, poet, and playwright (styling himself as a ‘story-teller/writer’), is best known for his children’s and Young Adult books, and was founder, along with poet Ted Hughes, of the Children’s Laureate role here in the UK. An animation of his book Mimi And The Mountain Dragon was shown on TV here over Christmas, and he was speaking on BBC 4 radio a few days ago about the trait of bravery in children’s book characters. It was during this interview that he praised today’s young people for their bravery—one of the themes in Mimi.
We don’t hear children and young people commended for their bravery that often, it seems to me. Mr Morpurgo spoke in reference to the way children face the challenges and complexities of today’s world, the uncertainties, and, in particular, the way many of them are taking an active stand against climate change and environmental threat.
My own older child is an influence on our household. Having become a vegan this year, we’re eating a lot more plant-based food. This Christmas saw us use recyclable brown paper and string for gifts, look for gifts that were more practical—or at least had a long life and relatively low impact, donate to eco charities, source the meat we did consume carefully, and reduce our single-use plastic. As always, we’ll recycle our Christmas tree (sadly, with a garden far too small to buy one in a pot to re-plant), but also planted several trees alongside the purchase. Already a vegetarian, I am also planning on trying out Veganuary. There’s a lot more we could do, but my child has already made a difference here, on the micro scale, and he’s just begun.
If there is a word I would like to ban in 2020, it is ‘snowflake’. At least, in the pejorative sense, used to describe today’s Western ‘Generation Z’ as over-sensitive, over-privileged, and self-centered, and a term beloved in the tabloid newspapers over here. It’s become lazy. Those young people from relatively wealthy backgrounds may not lack for material comforts (though many, like my son, are rejecting excessive materialism), they may not be projecting everyone’s image of ‘bravery’, and words such as ‘fight’ and ‘battle’ may get over-used, but… The upcoming generations have an enormous challenge on their hands.
Entitled? Did we not, as we came of age, take it for granted that we would have a healthy planet to inhabit, breathable air, fertile soil to cultivate? Were we ‘entitled’, arrogant in holding such an assumption?
Rather than deride the young for their ‘fragility’, perhaps we can see sensitivity as a positive, as an awareness of the world and its challenges, as caring and empathy. I, for one, would welcome a more caring 2020.