A Man, His Music, and a Movement. This extraordinary story is true, happening now and we are all part of it.
Raffi Cavoukian is the epitome of a servant leader, one who dedicates his life to the well being of children in our care. His songs about Baby Beluga timelessly beckon us into the deep blue sea, or is it?
Today as I write this, the Amazon is burning, people are left homeless due to unusual storm patterns, polar bears with haunting eyes implore us to take action. We’ve all seen those polar bears, haunting images. Glacier National Park has lost most glaciers since I last visited there.
There’s an ever growing list of extinct animals and entire species being wiped out. How can we not pay attention to this warning? Some call it an emergency. Climate change is so obvious to me. Our food. Our water.
Our world garden needs tending and Raffi accompanies our footsteps with his rousing anthems of songs and videos engaging us in our planet’s plight. ”There’s a beautiful big planet in the sky, it’s my home…. For the sake of all we love, will we do enough?”
His 2007 song “Cool It” was his grand plea for climate action and now years later, this newly revised video continues to rouse us with its fervor and call to action, to “Cool this planet down”.
For more than thirty years, Raffi has quietly and not so quietly spoken, sung and written about taking care of our planet earth not just on earth day but every day. In a 2017 essay for NBC news, Raffi wrote “Kids born today will face unprecedented global crises within their lifetimes, including the possible collapse of fisheries… decimation of coral reefs and rising sea levels… Finding a remedy for our species is a matter of survival.”
It’s one thing to commend Raffi for his life’s work entertaining little ones, but taking a closer look, once we reflect on “Cool It” and its implications and ramifications from 2007 to now, we see the comprehensive work this great man has done for the causes important to our well being, as members of the world community. Raffi’s purpose, passion, and vision so clearly mesh, longing for us to understand it’s our time to stand up and be counted. This is our defining moment.
Of great importance and further service, Raffi’s Foundation promotes the well being and raising children with honor, (“child honouring”) even offering coursework in developmentally appropriate parenting practices, as well as climate change activism, a perfect combination for kids. Amazing!
Raffi’s work led me to Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old Swedish activist who in a very short time mobilized thousands, if not millions of schoolchildren to teach their elders their stories, with signs, and their feet, through marches. Are you listening to us yet?
Politicians and all stakeholders are being informed by massive numbers of kids and adults demanding action. Even companies are getting involved, promising to strike along with schoolchildren for action on climate change. No longer willing to be ignored, imploring action. As Greta taught us, hope is good, but without action, hope doesn’t fix our planet’s problems. Drastic, immediate action.
With eyes on the G7 Climate Meeting and Paris Climate Accord, the children are leading us and we need to follow them. Greta and the kids are moving swiftly, there’s not a minute to lose. And they will be voting. They are talking to their representatives now, loudly and clearly.
I listened to Greta a number of times on audio and video, especially her December TED talk as I write, inspiring myself. On every occasion I found her to be articulate, empathetic, yet fervent about what we need to do. She says in part: “I think you have an enormous responsibility to lead climate effort. You have a moral responsibility to do that.” She is direct and not compromising her beliefs, and there could be no better qualities in a leader.
This is an enormously important movement, started by a child who will not be ignored and this time the world listens. There is no way to drown out the masses of children and intergenerational activist supporters. After the hottest summer on record in July ’18 in Sweden, Greta courageously sat outside the Swedish Parliament for a couple of weeks. She held a simple sign that read in Swedish, “School Strikes For Climate”. That’s it.
In about a year, the impossible happened. This young woman became the voice of a generation. Astounding, students all over the world heard her plea, joined the cause, mobilized and began to march, striking for climate action right now, not another thirty years. Who knows what will happen, if we don’t? Their fear is palpable.
Greta took a year off from school, traveling around the world, on late-night TV shows, leading strikes, sitting in on high-level meetings, offering a legacy of most extraordinary deeply impacting quotes about climate, our responsibility as individuals and collectively, as a society. With President Obama, looking so poised. Greta, the voice of this critically important movement is very transparent about who she is, her looks, her speech, her manner because she has mild autism, Asperger Syndrome. She clearly talks about her autism, how it is, in fact, her gift, others are the different ones. I love that.
These kids may have intense laser-like focus and it’s easy to understand how Greta immersed herself in what’s happening in our world, first in Sweden, then everywhere. Greta tells us she first became aware of global warming, need for recycling, etc. at age eight, so her activism should be no surprise. She’s been thinking and studying with intense effort for years before she hit the tipping point.
This impressive young woman performed a spellbinding TED talk in Stockholm, gave a speech at the U.N. climate change conference in Poland, in Dec. ‘18, and so many other events. Extraordinary. Greta’s goal of lowering emission standards by 15% every year is powerful. She walks her talk, en route the U.S. last month spending thirteen days traveling to the U.S. in a decked-out sailboat. Since flying is environmentally concerning to Greta, her boat trip made sense. Who else would do that?
She knows facts and details I could never remember. In researching to write my article for you, I read a commentary stating that Greta is duped by climate changers, and is a pawn. That was later mostly refuted by the same person. No, not at all, no pawn. Greta represents neurodiversity, we are all wired, think and process differently. Her uniqueness, her gifts are gifts we need right now. Greta has said until she found her cause, her passion, and purpose, she was lonely and was not leaving home much. Once she found her reason to be, she found a new life. How fortunate for us. Following unusually hot weather, Greta took a drastic step of standing up for our future generations, first in Sweden, then internationally. And the rest is history. And hopefully a clearly defined fresh start for us all.
Global School strikes for climate change have been held, notably last March and May. A huge worldwide strike week is coming up as I write, Sept. 20-27 2019. New York is supporting students’ walk-outs, which affects a multitude of kids.
Last March over a hundred countries were involved in a global strike. Part of that turned into “Fridays for Future”, now ongoing, gathering momentum like tumbleweeds in the wind. It cannot be stopped now.
If politicians have not been listening, students are turning us into believers of ‘we’. We must act now to ensure future generations have a planet to live in with clean air and water, food and care for all. It’s our civic and moral duty to take on this responsibility. Greta brings that into clear focus and obviously not just children are saying this anymore.
While it is not my intent to condone students skipping class to strike, they point out, “why go to school if there is no planet later”? I am also not suggesting adults strike for this purpose although personally I believe people should follow their conscience.
You are the deciders and definers of our future and what it might look like, for better or worse. Let’s pray for better, and activate ourselves into further vigilance with our elected representatives to represent us, fighting for clean air, water, food, and life itself. Always about money. Don’t they see? Let’s look through the innocence of Raffi’s Baby Beluga kids. They deserve better. We all do. If not us, who? If not now, when?
Thank you, Raffi, for honoring Greta, messaging fervently about our planet’s future and never giving up. You are my hero.
Listen to the children now. They are singing Raffi’s new rally song, “Young People Marching: (for Greta Thunberg), to be sung at school, home, and wherever.
Young people marching for climate
Millions and millions of young people marching
Marching for our planet, marching for their lives
Young people speaking their truth to power
The science is clear, it’s late in the hour
For climate action….”
May Greta’s words be our closing, “… Once you fully understand what’s happening, you understand what’s required of you…. It’s such an urgent problem and it’s affecting people now…. It’s very important that we are asking for help from the adults… “We will never stop fighting for this planet, for our futures, and for the futures of our children and grandchildren.”
One person really does make a difference, and in this case, two, of countless others fighting for our future. Thank you, Raffi, Greta, and everybody involved in this global community effort, for leading us with head, heart, and soul.
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita
I’d love to hear from you,
For more information about Global Climate Strike Week
Read about their response to the climate emergency.
Courtney Vasquez, Lavidge Publicity
Kim Layton, Raffi Foundation