Unfortunately, the prevailing morality surrounding its use seems to deviate from the rule. The day after the end of year holiday season, the use of the glass-recycling container was an adventure in itself. I had to face an abandoned Christmas tree and a lot of garbage, including a mirror and beer cans, to guide my empty cava bottles to the next step in their recycled existence. You don't have to beInspector Barnaby or Hercules Poirot to draw two conclusions from this.Firstly, Christmas trees and mirrors are not objects that can be transported on children's bicycles, which means they ended up there by an adult car driver.Secondly, the statistical probability that in a young neighbourhood children get drunk next to the glass-recycling container is rather small. The conclusion that the beer cans were left behind by adults is therefore quite realistic.

As such itis astonishing that they are mainly adults who criticise the 'Youth forClimate' movement with photos of polluted festival grounds. They’re also adults who express opinions about the ungrateful young generation who think more of their iPhone than of anyone else. However, I hear many young people, including my own children, responsibilise us to avoid plastic as much as possible. Of course, young people have their own agenda and they want to do their own thing, regardless of what the parents or society thinks about it. As an adolescent, you obviously have an eye for your own interests and you fight to protect them.At other times, however, these very same adolescents pay a lot of attention to greater importance and take initiatives for the youth movement, the ‘Warmste Week’,or go and join a climate protest march in Brussels.

© De Standaard

This balance between choosing at the right time for yourself and at other times choosing for the group interest is called 'cooperative competition'. Examples of cooperative competition can be found in development cooperation. Coffee farmers would do well to compete with each other but if they form a cooperative, they can negotiate better prices internationally. This behaviour can also be found in high-tech environments: the development costs for a new sensor are shared, but from the moment that this sensor is used in a digital camera, the manufacturers of the new sensor end up in competition with each other. On an individual level also, monitoring the balance between working together and opposing each other is essential to achieve a healthy dose of assertiveness. Too much of one and we slip into offensiveness, too much of the other and we end up in sub-assertive behaviour. In short, cooperative competition is a StreetSkill that is gaining importance.  

Youth for Climate is a fine example. Young people who transcend internal differences and work together for a higher purpose. They are the young people that will populate our organisations in the future. Let's hope that they have well developed the ability to choose at the right moment for the organisation's interests, regardless of their own interests. Let us therefore give up Flemish cynicis mand encourage these initiatives. Let's see it as an opportunity to take a critical look at our own 'mature' cooperative competition as well. If we do, it would make the next visit to the Eekse glass-recycling container much more pleasant.