Xiye Bastida: If you adults won't save the world, we will | TED

67,215 views ・ 2020-10-20

TED


Please double-click on the English subtitles below to play the video.

00:13
Dear Abuelita,
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I know I haven't been home for a while.
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You are in our lovely home in Mexico,
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and I'm here in the US,
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fighting for our future.
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You're probably watering the roses,
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taking care of the peaches
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and making sure your turtles are well-fed.
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That's one of the things I miss the most about home --
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spending time with the flowers
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while you tell me stories about your childhood.
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As you know, we have been living in New York City since 2015.
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But life has completely changed over the past year.
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At first, New York City was about museums
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and parks
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and school and friends.
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Now it serves as a web
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that connects me with all the other people
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who are organizing to save the planet.
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You know how it started for me?
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It was Dad and his wisdom.
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Everything you taught him, he went and taught the world.
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All of his words about the responsibility that we have as humans
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to live in balance with nature
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were passed down to me.
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I noticed the universal disconnect to our planet
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and remembered what you once told me:
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"Leave everything better than you found it."
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I know you were talking about the dishes,
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but of course, that applies to the planet as well.
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I didn't know what to do at first.
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The world is so big,
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and it has so many bad habits.
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I didn't know how a 15-year-old was supposed to change anything,
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but I had to try.
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To put this philosophy into practice,
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I joined the environmental club at my high school.
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However, I noticed that my classmates were talking about recycling
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and watching movies about the ocean.
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It was a view of environmentalism
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that was so catered towards an ineffective way of climate activism,
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one that blames the consumer for the climate crisis
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and preaches that temperatures are going up
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because we forgot to bring a reusable bag to the store.
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You taught me that taking care of Mother Earth
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is about every decision that we make as a collective.
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I am happy to tell you, Abuelita,
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that I changed everybody's mind in that club.
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Instead of talking about recycling,
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we started to write letters to our politicians
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to ban soft plastic altogether.
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And then, the unexpected happened:
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we started striking from school.
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I know you've probably seen it on the news,
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and maybe it's not that special anymore.
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But at the time, it was a huge deal, Abuelita.
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Imagine kids not going to school, because we want people to save the world.
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(Video) Crowd: Another world is possible! We are unstoppable!
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Xiye Bastida: For the first global climate strike,
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which was called on by Greta Thunberg,
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I got 600 of my classmates to walk out with me.
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Greta Thunberg is a teenager who first started striking for climate.
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Her boldness inspired me,
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and I was shocked by the realization
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that youth could turn public opinion on social issues.
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The movement exploded.
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(Video) Crowd: Shut it down!
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XB: And I became one of the main organizers
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for New York, the US and the world.
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(Video) XB: What do we want? Crowd: Climate justice!
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XB: When do we want it? Crowd: Now!
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XB: I started speaking up about climate justice and Indigenous rights
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and intergenerational cooperation.
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That was only the beginning, though.
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The busiest week of my life
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will forever be the week of September 20, 2019.
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Me and my friends got 300,000 people to strike for climate in New York.
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I wish you could have been there.
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We walked through Wall Street, demanding climate justice.
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(Video) Crowd: No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil!
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XB: That same month, I went to the United Nations Climate Summit.
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I spoke on a panel with Al Gore.
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I met Jay Inslee and Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben
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and the president of the United Nations.
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It was the most amazing week of my life,
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because everyone I knew came together --
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all my teachers, all my classmates ...
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And even some of my favorite stores closed down to strike for climate.
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If you had asked me why I did all of that,
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my only answer would be,
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"How could I not?"
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It's been one year since it all started for me,
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and it gets a little tiring at times.
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But if there is one thing that you taught me, it's resilience.
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I remember that you went to Mexico City every day for 30 years
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to get money for the family.
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And I know that Abuelito has been going out for 20 years
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to protect sacred land from big companies that want to take it.
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A year is nothing
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compared to the struggles that our family has been through.
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And if our struggles make the world a better place,
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they will make us better people.
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There have been some hardships, Abuelita.
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Out there in the world,
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people expect us kids to know everything,
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or at least they want us to.
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They ask questions and I give answers,
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as if I really knew how the world works.
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They want hope, and we give it.
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I have organized, written, spoken and read about climate and policy
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almost every day for the past year.
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And I'm just a little worried
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that I won't be able to do enough, Abuelita.
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For me, being 18 years old and trying to save the world
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means being a climate activist.
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Before, maybe it meant studying to be a doctor
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or a politician or a researcher.
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But I can't wait to grow up and become one of those things.
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The planet is suffering,
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and we don't have the luxury of time anymore.
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Saving the world as a teenager means being good with words,
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understanding the science behind the climate crisis,
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bringing a unique perspective into the issue to stand out
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and forgetting about almost everything else.
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But sometimes, I want to care about other things again.
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I want to be able to sing and dance and do gymnastics.
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I truly feel that if all of us took care of the Earth
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as a practice,
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as a culture,
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none of us would have to be full-time climate activists.
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When businesses turn sustainable,
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when the power grid runs on renewable energy,
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when the school curriculum teaches us
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that taking care of the Earth is part of our humanity,
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maybe I can do gymnastics once again.
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Don't you think so, Abuelita?
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We can do this.
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All I'm trying to do with my work
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is give that optimistic mindset to other people.
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But it's been a little hard.
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There is greed,
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there's pride,
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there's money,
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and there's materialism.
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People make it so easy for me to talk to them,
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but they make it so hard for me to teach them.
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I want them to have the confidence to always do their best.
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I want them to have the heart and the courage
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to love the world,
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just like you taught me.
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I wrote this letter to thank you.
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Thank you for inviting me to love the world
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since the moment I was born.
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Thank you for laughing at everything.
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Thank you for teaching me
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that hope and optimism are the most powerful tools we have
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to tackle any problem.
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I do this work because you showed me
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that resilience, love and knowledge
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are enough to make a difference.
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I want to go back to Mexico and visit you.
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I want to show you the pictures of the things that I have done.
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I want to show you the climate legislation
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that we've been able to pass.
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I want to smell the flowers
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and fight for climate justice alongside you.
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Te quiero mucho.
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I love you.
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Xiye.
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[Te quiero mucho. Xiye.]
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