Common sense from a 7th-grader; more civility

By Reade Brower | Nov 28, 2019

This week’s column is ceded to seventh-grader Sophy Laukka of Camden.

Sophy wrote recently to share what science tells us about climate change. What’s important is that Sophy, like many younger people these days, is engaged and willing to do what most grownups refuse to; namely look after our planet as if their generation depended on it.

Over the course of the last several columns, writing about civility has generated unexpected reactions. The Susan Collins one in particular is a head-scratcher; perhaps the writing wasn’t clear and it’s the fault of the author. Or perhaps readers want to politicize it because of the world as it is today.

Instead of taking it at face value, many took it as a pro-Collins editorial, which it was not — it was intended to be non-political and to stand up for Sen. Collins, the person. But the world we live in today would not have it; instead polarization occurred, generating anti-Collins venom with the column being used as a jumping point to anti-Collins editorials and a dis-invite to an event.

In the end, standing up for civility is the right thing to do; judge if you must, but don’t use it as a jumping-off point for anti-Collins ramblings because it was about decency, not politics.


“We haven’t yet learned how to stay human when assembled in masses.” Lewis Thomas, physician, author (1913-1993)


If below is a snapshot of our future, we’re in good shape. Sophy wants to grow up in a world based on science, not on greed. People who deny climate change care more about their pocketbooks than they do about their legacy; our youth and future generations deserve more. Listen to what our future leaders have to say.

Give ’em hell, Sophy, and the class of 2025!


Dear Reade Brower,

Thank you for reading this. My name is Sophy Laukka, and I want to tell you about climate change.

No, do not ball this up now, I’m not going to give you a lecture on the fact that if we don’t do something now, the glaciers will melt and drown us all, or how polar bears are going extinct. It’s local too.

Did you know that because temperatures are rising, here in Maine, the evergreens are drying out! They prefer the cool, wet, snowy winters we’ve been lacking recently! We can’t lose the pine trees! Also, the water here is getting warmer. Lobsters don’t like that, and they can’t live in warmer water!

Everyone zooms in on things far, far away when people talk about climate change, but really, it’s right here too! We will lose our lobsters, our moose, which are both beautiful parts of what makes Maine, well, Maine!

Say, let’s do a chain reaction. If the lobsters died out, lobster trappers would lose their jobs! Less people would come to “Vacationland” for the summer, and restaurants would lose some business because of the lack of lobster dinners! Lobster pots would lose their spot on the Maine icons list!

On Friday, Nov. 8, there was a climate change school walkout at the Camden-Rockport Middle School. It was mostly seventh-graders like me. I think it was to raise awareness. The people in the walkout did not talk about the local problems. They spoke about climate change on a larger scale, even though the moose are dying out. This is happening because the temperatures are rising. Even though they rose just a little, the tick population is spiking and killing moose! 10,000 ticks are being found on a single moose! Another example of a beautiful Maine creature!

See, it’s not just us using too much coal in China or killing trees in Brazil. I’m not saying that’s not a huge issue, but we can start small. We can’t just say “Coal is off-limits!” or “The ice caps are melting!”

People won’t listen. There are too many climate-deniers out there. But we can take charge.

Listen to us. We can be a voice, not an echo of the adults. Kids like me can have a big part in changing the world for the better. Listen to us. Give us a voice.  Let us take the lead. We CAN help. You just need to let us.

Please do an article about children’s activism and local climate change. Raise awareness. Prove the deniers wrong.

Thank you for listening.


Sophy Laukka

7th Grade

Camden, Maine

Comments (4)
Posted by: Reade Brower | Nov 30, 2019 22:46

Ron, the point is not to ignore the opposition, just the notion that love is a better weapon to change minds than hate. It is not indifferent to listen and try to understand why people think the way they do, rather than admonish them for being wrong. I have seen, in myself and in others, that yelling louder doesn't get the point across - nobody hears you when you yell. Much more profound to be curious than to know what is right, at least in MHO.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Nov 30, 2019 18:27

Well, Reade, what price are you willing to pay for "civility."  What will you tolerate in pursuit of "decency."  Indeed perhaps the question is what is tolerance in the face of intolerance or what does civility do in the face of incivility.  Can they co-exist at all or does civility when presented with incivility simply acquiesce and permit the incivility to rage on unchecked.  How is that done without becoming complicit in that which you chose to tolerate?  

Eli Weisel, Romanian-born American writer, intellectual, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor once wrote, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. "

And if that is true then may I point out that the opposite of civility is not incivility, but indifference as well.  

I have written here before of the frustration of being treated to false civility, of being ignored by those who owe all of us their attention -and service- but prefer to offer up only a mask of concern that hides a cruel indifference.  Is that not simply a more devious form of passive incivility?  And if we let it slide don't we acquiesce in our own impotence in the face of it?  Are we not giving it validation?  

Karl Popper wrote that, "if a demand for unlimited tolerance suggests that we need to tolerate the most awful ideas and acts that occur within society (specifically, those that oppress others), we’re providing a tacit endorsement of those policies."  Is he wrong?  I don't believe so.

Sophy writes, "People won't listen."  She's right.  That's frustrating enough.  But far more uncivil are those that pretend to listen, smile, nod, peer through you with those glassed over eyes and then waltz away as though you were nothing more than an unsettling noise.  That's the incivility of indifference that makes today's politicians -especially on the right- mere shadow walkers in these darkening days of our democracy.

Popper spoke of the most "awful ideas and acts" that become policy because of the inaction of the tolerant.  If "evil succeeds because good men do nothing" is it uncivil of us stand firm in our opposition to these, to speak out against them and to call out the perpetrators and their enablers (no matter how civil they appear?)

As Sophy says this is not something "far, far away."  It is here.  It is now.  It is Maine.  The lobsters and the moose will thank us, I'm sure, and forgive us if we were uncivil to these "awful ideas and acts."

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 30, 2019 05:27

We have to be very proud of our Maine young people who are making our world a friendlier place for us all :)


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 28, 2019 09:47

Encouraging to see our young people stepping out; especially when seeing articles like this:


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