THE VOICE OF THE YOUTH

by Šimon Michalčík, GLOBUS Correspondent

Roughly a year ago, all of us were probably experiencing difficult times. One day, when the gravity of self-isolation (both physical, and consequently, social) laid on me, I wrote a poem. I thought about how the pandemic was most likely just a mere glimpse into the uncertainties and falls of the upcoming few decades, that will show the full extent of just how much damage we have caused to our planet — and I wrote my thoughts down.

I am happy to share this poem with GLOBUS readers for its new creative series. But what an article would it be if there was just a poem and nothing else? Perhaps influenced by the nectar of heavens (a glass of Aldi wine), I chose to present the poem in the form of an excerpt from a book that is yet to be written perhaps by my great-great-great grandchild from the 22nd century. This way, I am also trying out the intended format for my upcoming dissertation. I recommend simply skipping to the poem.

(Excerpt)

Precollapsian Poetry 

CHAPTER 3: The Voice of the Youth   

[...] 

Looking back at the time before The Great Collapse, we see that the last few decades of flourishing modern human civilization have not been so short-sighted. Indeed, there is a growing number of electronic data discoveries that support the folklore tales of an enlightened generation.

This short-lasting and yet intense movement, traditionally referred to as the Gretians (in honor of the symbolic figure Greta Thunberg, as introduced in Chapter 1), embodied the last chance for a decent future that did not follow. Millions of people all around the world, predominantly youth, saw the direction humanity was heading into and strived to convince global leaders to make rapid changes.

The Gretians grew in number before their peak around the late 2020s, when the collapse was still just foreshadowed. It was the mixture of never-before-seen comfort and security, together with the growing threat of an environmental breakdown, that provided the circumstances perfect for a wide spectrum of Gretian activism to develop.

We see now that Gretian efforts went beyond civil disobedience and political action. Various forms of artistic expression played an essential part in keeping the Gretian movement breathing. Gretian poets (mostly students and youth) observed the crumbling civilization very closely and as such, their poetry presents a great source of insights into the essence of the early 21st century.

As the first example follows a recently discovered poem by an unnamed student, written in the year 2020 somewhere in the region of present-day’s Great European Desert:

The Dusks of Today and Tomorrow

As the light abandoned
the stretches of the day,
each soul a stranded island,
all left to slow decay.

And yet no wisdom, nor a will,
no hope to save us from the wind,
that blows us forward, down the hill,
to punish us for oh we've sinned.

Now for our gambles, suffer we,
the ever-erring generations,
though little when compared to thee,
who's born by shores that lost their patience.

Historians are currently in disagreement over what the first verse of the poem refers to. Yet, most imply that what we see here is evidence of the 2020's COVID-19 pandemic, the first of the later chain of coronavirus pandemics. The world was shaken awake from a long period of invulnerability and that took a heavy toll on the mental health of billions, extinguishing much of Gretian hope and optimism. It was the first major global hit of massive biodiversity loss, which created circumstances fragile enough for a disease like coronavirus to spread so quickly.

The second verse further weeps over the irresponsible actions of the precollapsian society—the spiraling catastrophe of not just biodiversity degradation, but also the climate crisis and the deepening socioeconomic inequalities. While the Gretians are believed to be predominantly atheists, it is worth noticing that religious themes still lingered throughout art and literature (to punish us for oh we’ve sinned). Perhaps that was due to the enormity of the coming disaster, whose only comparable precedent was the mythical biblical global flood.

The final verse further builds on the previously established themes, with the author apologetically nodding to our postcollapsian generation (who’s born by shores that lost their patience). Therefore, it is safe to assume that the society of the early 21st century knew about the tragedies to come—although we still do not understand why they had not done all in their power to prevent them. Perhaps we will never fully grasp the root of that ignorance. Yet, as shown in The Dusks of Today and Tomorrow, the first coronavirus pandemic played a crucial role in weakening the Gretian movement, creating a sense of desertion and hopelessness in the hearts of the once-determined youth.

[...]

Header image by kordula vahle via Pixabay

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