Chris Johnson

Walking out of school over climate change? Is it needed or is it just really neat

Millions of young folks marched out of schools Friday to draw attention to climate change. More than a million students in New York City alone were given permission to skip school for the event. Down South, students mainly stayed in their classrooms — not because they respect authority but because it’s too darn hot and their smart phones might melt. #LifeRuined!

This is a global movement spearheaded by young folks like 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg who visited the U.S. last week to fist-bump former President Barack Obama and to scold members of Congress for their inaction on the issue. I have a transcript of the hearing:

Thunberg: “Adults don’t give a damn about my future.”

Congressman: “Little girl, we don’t say words like ‘damn’ in this chamber!”

Thunberg: “I said ‘dam.’”

Congressman: “OK, you may proceed. As she speaks, I’d like to remind my Democratic colleagues to nod with apparent grave concern and remind my Republican colleagues to scoff and roll their eyes as much as possible while counting the dollars from Big Oil in their wallets. Meanwhile, I’ll keep researching this Democratic Socialist place this gal says she’s from, Sweden. Hmm, this looks informative. The Swedish Bikini Team? Damn. Uh, I mean, dam.”

I’m sure most of the kids who walked out of classrooms around the world are generally concerned about climate change and resent being handed a planet on fire. I’m also sure there were a bunch of aggravating little Chris Johnsons walking out of school and chanting, “Whatever it is, I’m all for it! Or against it!”

I wasn’t really for or against much of anything when I was in school. Well, that’s not exactly true. I was against going to school and for skipping it whenever possible. If there had been walkouts against climate change or for gun control back then, I dang sure would have participated. Of course, if there had been walkouts on the other sides of those issues, I’d have walked out while toting an AK-47 and yelling “Drill Baby Drill!” — whatever it took to get me out of the classroom.

My high school principal would not have been very supportive of walkouts. In fact, he once got on the intercom one morning when there was a chance of snow and said, “You young people better hope it doesn’t snow because if it does you’re gonna lose one of your spring holidays.”

Um, if we could have hoped that snow out of the sky, I’d have been the first one organizing a Hope Circle for Snow and brought on a blizzard. If I had the power to hope snow out of the sky, Montezuma, Georgia, would have been featured in science magazines for its strange 180 days of snow each year.

At one point during my senior year I began checking out of school after third period and checking back in before fourth period so that I could grab a double chili cheeseburger from a greasy joint downtown. When the assistant principal told me I wasn’t allowed to do that anymore, I told him, “Well, I’m gonna keep doing it, but if it makes you feel better, you can give me an ‘F’ in lunch.”

I was definitely a rebel without a cause or a clue.

We can debate whether walking out of class over climate change or gun control makes any real difference. We can debate whether climate change is real or whether an assault rifle and high-capacity ammunition magazines are protected by the Second Amendment. But no matter where you stand on those issues, you really ought to support the Greta Thunbergs and Emma Gonzalezes at the forefront of these efforts.

These kids are trying to make the world a better place. That’s something we all ought to be able to support. And don’t be distracted by those crazy Chris Johnsons who are just along for the ride … or at least for the walk out the door.

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