When Brian Hades and I were discussing themes for Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) one of the possibilities he suggested was optimistic speculative fiction. I pounced on that idea for two reasons. First, because I’d just recently become aware of solarpunk (largely through Sarena Ulibarri) and was excited to work on an anthology that might include some and second because I’d become convinced that we were living in the darkest timeline.
That was in 2016. I had no idea how much darker it could become.
Still, despite a very difficult couple of years, I manage to find reasons for optimism. Lights in the darkness. And I’m not alone in that.
In the coming weeks I will be hosting a series of blog posts I’m calling “Bright Spots in the Darkest Timeline”. Each will be written by a Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) contributor and I think they will serve the dual purpose of giving me an excuse to talk about the anthology, and shining a bit of light into people’s lives.
Today we continue with this contribution from Dorianne Emmerton about how today’s youth keep her optimistic.
By Dorianne Emmerton
Optimism does not come easily to me. It’s possible I did this to myself, reading dystopian science fiction from my parents’ book shelves when I was young and impressionable. I’ve been worried about environmental devastation since I read The Sheep Look Up at some sort of tender age, and that concern has certainly not lessened over the years, as climate change becomes an increasingly clear and immediate danger. And there is no dearth of other things to worry about, on either side of the personal-political coin.
As an anxious kid, and an insecure teen, I felt powerless in the face of everything awful on earth. I wasn’t smart enough, rich enough, or politically influential enough to save the world. As a hard-partying twentysomething I had my period of youthful idealism, showing up at protests to shout slogans in a voice hoarse from cigarettes and lack of sleep. I remember the moment that stopped. On a bitterly cold day in February of 2003, I froze my ass off protesting the American invasion of Iraq. Thirty-six million people around the world protested. But it happened anyway. I knew it was going to happen anyway. It didn’t matter, nothing we did mattered.
But the kids these days aren’t just marching. The kids these days give me hope. The kids these days aren’t standing around in the cold; they’re lawyering up.
I’m talking about the youth all over the world who are suing their governments for policies that contribute to climate change. Some of these litigants are literal children.
And a group of 25 children and young people won their court case in Colombia!.
On October 29th, 2018, the “Trial of the Century” is starting in the United States. Twenty-one Americans ranging in age from eleven to twenty-two have filed that their government’s actions that cause climate change have violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.
If it can happen south of the border, it can happen up here in Canada. The American kids are represented by lawyers from the legal non-profit organization Our Children’s Trust, who are partnering with other attorneys and youth around the world to file more lawsuits – and they have a page with our name on it.
I’m currently raising a kid of my own, and he’s already doing ground-level advocacy work in his kindergarten – though it’s a necessity, not a choice. He has to explain to his classmates that it’s possible to have two women as parents, because that’s what he has. He has to explain that some people use they/them pronouns, because those are people in his life.
And if he ever wants to sue the government over fossil fuels, he has my full support.
Dorianne Emmerton grew up in the woods on the North Channel of Lake Huron and currently lives in the metropolis of Toronto. She loves both of those environments, but wishes the drive between them didn’t take so long. She has recent publications in the Ink Stains Anthology; Friend. Follow. Text #storiesFromLivingOnline; and Issue #1 of Beer And Butter Tarts, as well as a personal essay in A Family By Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships. She is currently working on a space opera novella in collaboration with Ottawa band
Saturnfly, and a novel about occult magic in Northern Ontario. She has a wonderful chosen family, an adorable son, and a black cat.