I suspect there will be many Guardian readers who shared the dilemma I myself faced this week. Not whether to allow their kids to miss lessons in an exam year for the higher cause of tackling climate change: that one was a no-brainer.
Shame and institutional stability – or – change in healthcare
No, the dilemma I have in mind is rather more finely balanced. Should the conscientious liberal parent reveal their excitement about seeing their son or daughter take a stand, or should they pretend to disapprove, thereby supplying their young with the thrill of principled rebellion? Thunberg is also demonstrating the power of the individual act.
All of these are reasons to be heartened. And yet, there is a harsher truth to face. These demonstrations by the young are a terrible indictment of the rest of us.
10 Life-Changing Ways to Move Through Shame
They are a mark of our failure. Their action is only necessary because we have failed to act. This week marked the first anniversary of the Parkland school shooting in Florida, a massacre of 17 that led to a mass movement of young Americans demanding gun control. That effort too is a product of failure, children having to act because adults have failed in their basic duty: to protect the young. Will this effort work? Then the world is our oyster and any change we decide to make comes from a different place.
A place of plenty. A few years ago I went to hear a famous sustainable farmer talk.
I thought I was pretty clever raising my hand high to ask how I could bring others, my friends and family, with me on my sustainable food journey. I am sure the expert was trying to be nice, but he very politely suggested I should worry about my own journey, and kind of lead by example. My journey was on track.
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It was others that needed to get on board, and quickly. They should be so lucky I was offering to show them the way. I have since relaxed about that particular food journey I was on. And is there a funny way to go about that?
And I think this is probably bigger than just the Hollywood story: Low-level employees are treated poorly in most industries throughout this great nation of ours [laughs], and in fact the world over. We actually had a lot more in the season, and we ended up pulling out a bunch, because it started to feel like overkill.
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All of us have heard stories, thirdhand, secondhand or firsthand, of bosses being mean and mistreating their assistants. When it comes to someone like me, I have people working on my behalf.
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I have my manager, who advocates for me, and I have my guild, which sets minimums, and I also have my own personal security in knowing that on some level I am irreplaceable. That I have that leverage. And I think many of them feel like they are replaceable, that if they try to push back on anything, the company is going to say no and fire them and bring in somebody else who wants it just as much.
The system has failed there. That is an unfortunate byproduct, and we want to do this right.
Like, I would love to know, what is correct? What is a fair wage for an assistant to get in this day and age?
I would love for some maybe informal standards to be set. I would love to put pressure on companies to maybe sign a pledge of some sort. But I think before they do that, we need to know what the demands are, and I think a lot of people would be eager to meet those demands, or at least entertain them, or negotiate with them.