A massive congratulations to Samuel Roach from Melbourne, whose opinion piece, "The Hero's Journey", took out first place in Get With It's comp! From the skillful use of extended metaphor, to the successful persuasive language, Samuel blew us away with his piece. Read Samuel's winning entry below!
The Hero's Journey
When I was six years old, the only dead planet I knew of was Krypton.
The destruction of Superman’s home-world always bothered me. Because it was so avoidable. There were people- scientists, such as Superman’s father, Jo El, who warned their fellow Kryptonians about the dangers of abusing nature.
But, like in all the comics I read, there were those who didn’t agree. Of course, when their world did end, people started to listen to scientists, like Jo El. But, by that stage, he was too busy trying to save his only son.
Superman is a Tragedy.
But it was also just a comic that I could read in the comfort of knowing my earth would never be a dead planet.
However, as I grew older, and looked down from the stars, my friends and I began to see our world as Jo El saw Krypton. A little bit dead.
Poisonous rain leaks from black skies, pelicans choke on oil, two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef has been burned and bleached and every single day, four thousand five hundred Chinese people suffocate to death on sticky, gaseous air churned out by their factories, throwing mega tonnes of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere- worsening the greenhouse effect and warming our planet.
Climate change, as it turns out, is human made on earth just as it was Kryptonian made on Krypton.
It is the rope strung suicidally around our necks as the ice melts beneath us. But, as I look around me and see the last days of Krypton once again, few of us seem to care.
And, tonight, I want to explore this with you, the consequences of our neglect and finally, a potential solution.
So, why is it that we’re not taking climate change seriously?
Well, first and foremost I think it does have something to do with, the literal words ‘climate change.’ They don’t sound very menacing. They just sound like climate that is changing. Or weather. And weather isn’t very frightening at all, because we can manage it. Take the umbrella for example.
The psychological sphere would also suggest that a concept known as confirmation bias plays a part. Confirmation bias is what mum would call ‘selective hearing’, but as it turns out, it’s not just an ability exclusive to teenage boys and husbands.
We see it in everyone when they ignore the real danger of climate change because it doesn’t suit our political agenda, bottom line or personal comfort.
We saw it in the stable genius of Trump when, in 2012, he stated: ‘climate change was invented for and by the Chinese.’
We see it in businesses that prioritise profit above sustainable progress.
I saw it in myself a few months ago when I took a twelve minute and thirty seven second shower in Cape Town. I knew about Day Zero. I saw children with cracked lips. But I was jet lagged, I was tired and that’s also the precise amount of time taken to sing Bohemian Rhapsody and Dancing Queen. I, like so many of us, convinced myself that in the grand scheme of things, my action didn’t really matter.
But, I also believe that fundamentally, as governments, societies and people alike. We don’t see climate change as the enemy it is, because- in one way or another- we’re afraid. Due to the crisis of our time, everything we do concerning the environment has a real, tangible effect and in that sense, we’ve all been conscripted into a war.
And war has changed.
Because this time we’re all on the same side, we’re fighting the biggest baddest villain our race has ever seen and deep down we know it.
But, because we’re afraid… we don’t fight. And we can’t flee from a dying planet. So, all we do is freeze. Every time we take a long shower, don’t recycle, boost the air-con, we freeze. Drive our head into the sand and cry for a superhero… who- to the shock of my six year old, comic obsessed self- isn’t here.
Our leaders- those who are meant to be the heroes of this story have been the villains.
Just a week ago, the U.N. urged countries to slash emissions, confirming that, if we don’t, our climate will be damaged beyond repair by 2050. An appeal our government called ‘irresponsible.’
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the Australia, Pauline Hanson kindly confirmed for us that “global warming is a natural process caused by movement of the sun and the moon”, thereby confusing climate change for the tides. I learned the difference in year seven.
And, World wide we’ve had the Paris Pact. But America is pulling out, Europe isn’t meeting targets and the Scomo Government doesn’t even have a policy on climate change. What they do have is a PM who, just last year, walked into parliament with a lump of coal and exclaimed: ‘this is our future.’ But he didn’t exclaim, that in thirty years Australian summer will be so hot we won’t be able to go outdoors.
Trump, Turnbull, Scomo, we as a society don’t act because we don’t see climate change the way we should. And because we don’t, our children won’t look to Krypton to see a dead planet. They’ll look outside.
And all they’ll have to blame is their parents.
But I don’t want to be the generation to kill my home. I want us to be the one to save it. The only question is how. Well, my six year-old, comic obsessed self would suggest that the only things capable of winning the greatest wars, are the greatest superheroes.
In 1995, our government looked to the future and saw that, if given the chance, our ozone layer could heal itself naturally. That’s why they abolished damaging chemical refrigerants like CFCs. They used their superpower of policy.
And in 2018, energy company AGL is closing Liddell, moving away from coal to renewable technologies with billions invested. They’re using their superpower of money!
So the power is here. We just need to harness it. We need bipartisan support, coupled with the full force of industry innovation to bring about the strongest, most efficient, most superheroic reforms we’ve ever seen. Because that’s what it will take.
And once we have our justice league of superheroes, that’s when we can break this ’apocalyptic war’ down into battles.
Battles we will fight in the supermarkets with reusable bags. Battles we will fight on the beaches when we pick up our litter. Battles we will fight at home when we have a two minute showers.
And I promise you we will save the world because the power of the human collective is stronger than any one Superman who lies on the page of a comic.
And better yet, our power won’t be define by a dead would. It’ll be defined by a saved one.
I love comics. Since I was six years old, I’ve wanted to be part of something SuperHeroic. And saving our planet seems like a good place to start.