Billions Strong

"I'm just a teenager," she said. "I can't change the system."

My mind went immediately to Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg, the Swedish teen activist who for a time stood alone in opposition to her government's lackluster efforts to address human contributions to global climate disruption.

"Never heard of her," the young lady standing before me in my store said.

"Look her up," I suggested, not willing to spoonfeed her Thunberg's short biography, thinking it better that she be made to do her own homework, since she was not likely to hear anything I had to say on the subject anyway.

"So," her equally-aged male companion chimed in, "like, what is this place?"

"What does it look like?" I had to ask.

"I don't know," he said without looking around, as though he were standing in front of an open refigerator, unable to see anything to eat.

"Sustainably-made stuff for the whole family upfront," I said, leading their gaze with a sweep of my hand. "Mostly new and consigned kid's clothes in the back."

They glossed over the dozens of products I had carefully arranged throughout the store in an effort to show off the collective works of hundreds of people around the world, looking without seeing clear evidence of the difference a billion small individual acts could make, as I pointed out reincarnated clothing and upcycled bags, all-natural cleaners, and more in the category of the more sustainably and ethically made.

"How do they do that?" she asked.

"Magic," I said, admittedly losing patience with what I rightly or wrongly perceived to be her lazy imagination.

"Cool," they said as one, standing awkwardly a moment longer before turning to leave.

"Thanks," she said then, stopping to turn back my way. "I learned something here today."

"Me, too," I said, thinking I had to do more to make it easier for people to understand how little effort it took to live more sustainably on the planet.

"No, dude," her boy friend said. "She's hella smart."

And I believed it. But I know being smart will not be enough to get us out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into if we do not couple our brains to our beliefs and our behavior.

"Prove it," I said then, as they headed out the door. "Show the world what you can do."

Be the change, as the saying goes. Not the cliche.

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