For as long as I remember, my father has had a claim: In future, there would be a fight of government and corporates vs people and nature. In fact, he thinks this will likely escalate into a war, that the nature-protecting anarchists might employ guerrilla tactics to get results. Fifteen years ago, this sounded like a cool dystopia. Then again, I guess fifteen years ago, 1984 was still a dystopia. Today, neither feel too different from reality. Hats off to you, dad!
The threat of climate change is surely not a new topic. It’s been around for quite a while and lately, it has become a major point of debate. And very recently, the name of the game has changed to Greta Thunberg. Most have heard her name as a teenager that made some kind of fuss. Before we know it, she was portrayed as a symbol for the pro-environmental movement. She talked with world leaders. She gave speeches in the UN. And as all things under spotlight, she’s quickly become a source of controversy.
I, for one, applauded Greta and assumed pretty much all pro-environment people would. The controversy was unexpected to me at first. Then I noticed more and more arguments, especially after her “How dare you!” speech. Here are some of the arguments: “Boo hoo, dreams of a girl from a rich country is stolen” “She’s acting” “She can’t give a speech without notes” “She’s autistic” “She’s too young” “She is supported by corporates” “She is working with corporates” “She targeted country X but not USA or China”
My stance at first was “I don’t understand, she’s just 16!” but I also was thinking of a different angle I guess, because for me it also did not, does not matter. I’ll tell you how my thoughts work on this.
I’ll split these arguments into groups and please pardon my French for some of my words below.
Before I start, I have a personal disclaimer: I’ve had talks, thought exchanges and discussions with several of my friends. If you are one of them, you probably only know the one I had with you. But I’ve had many (like, MANY) of them. Nothing below is directed at a particular person. In fact, almost none of it is due to these discussions. I’ve been reading comments everywhere and the internet comments are what I’m responding to. My friends are the best.
Group 1: Privileged Kid shouldn’t talk
Small note: This isn’t about how genuine she is. That’s a separate point below. This is purely about where she’s from.
She’s from a “rich country”, so what? Their future isn’t at stake? Is there a protective barrier around 1st world countries that stables the climate within?
Yeah, she doesn’t have the troubles of a teenager in an emerging country. But you know what, that teenager doesn’t have the troubles of a teenager in a poor 3rd world country. And you know what, that teenager doesn’t have the troubles of a teenager in an African country where warlords rule. And that final teenager may not really be aware of the situation.
Even funnier, these comments come from people in 20ies, 30ies, 40ies, 50ies. So what will it be, old person from the emerging country? What’s your response to the guy in the poorer country? Are you going to ignore your own problems because his problems are worse? Are we only going to complain if we have the worst life possible in this world?
Also, teenagers from all over the world are supporting the movement, so what’s your response to that?
And you realize she’s not asking for that imaginary 1st world barrier, right? She’s fighting for everyone. She’s also fighting for you.
You blame a 16-year-old who’s fighting for something bigger than herself, of being self-absorbed; when you are doing the same at twice, thrice her age. Congratulations to your ego, you are officially an asshole.
Also, doesn’t it make sense that this comes from a 1st world country? If there are immediate issues of people from poorer countries, isn’t it unfair to expect those kids to drop everything and do this?
Also, isn’t it actually cool that she’s from a 1st world country and she’s trying to fight for something that affects everyone?
Seriously, what is your alternative? Should she move to India or Turkey, live there for 5 years to understand the problems of a teenager, then work against Erdogan or something?
Are YOU going to speak for the environment meanwhile? What is your alternative?
Group 2: She’s not capable
This is pure bullshit. How can you expect a 16-year-old to be capable of tackling an issue like climate change? Be fair. Of course, she can’t say the perfect words. Of course, she can’t know everything 100%. Who does? Politicians, celebrities and businessmen with teams dedicated to PR make mistakes daily. Why are you judging a 16-year-old for not being perfect? Is Trump perfect? Is Trudeau? Is Erdogan? Is Merkel? Are you?
These arguments are the ones that make me angry. It’s the worst kind of armchair criticism. I don’t know if this is some kind of jealousy of the spotlight, or is it the only control people have over the situation or whatever. Just shut the hell up.
She is way over her head. That’s exactly the absurdity of the situation. That’s exactly what she’s saying. That’s the whole point of her actions.
Group 3: She can’t change things.
No shit Sherlock! Of course, she can’t fix anything by herself. She’s not the one supposed to do that. She shouldn’t be in the UN giving speeches about the environment and that’s exactly what she says. She should be doing what high schoolers are doing. But the leaders aren’t being impactful. They aren’t moving. So she’s only there to make a fuss, so the people who are supposed to know what to do, who are supposed to have the power to make an impact, who are supposed to act get their act together and do what they are supposed to do.
Seriously, what is your alternative? Not doing anything? Are you aware that’s what you’ve been doing and that it doesn’t help? Let her try. Give her a bit of support. She’s just 16. Don’t you have children or little siblings or anyone younger than you around? Is this how you treat them as well?
Group 4: She is directed by others or is not genuine.
There are two parts to this, part one is ridiculous. It’s about specific actions. Let me go through some.
“She needs notes!” — You mean, like almost every person who give speeches do?
“She wasn’t sincere in crying” — You mean, she added some dramatic flair as so many people do?
Stuff like this. Come on. Just. Just don’t.
The other part is questioning the bigger picture.
Now, this is the only group of arguments that I can appreciate. Honestly, I do think there is some sort of “lobbying” in the back. I haven’t really read about how she’s “accused”, but you don’t get to have this much spotlight just like that. I mean, none of us would know, it’s not like we tried anything like this at the age of 16, or 17, or 26 or ever, but we know more or less how these work. Maybe corporates that support her directly or indirectly, also manipulate her actions and words. Even worse, maybe she’s in on it. Maybe she knows exactly what she’s doing because she thinks or she’s made to believe that this is the only way. Even worse, maybe she knows exactly what she’s doing. A teenager mastermind with a seat in the secret chamber of Illuminati!
I may have exaggerated, but most of it is definitely possible. The thing is, I simply do not care.
What if she’s supported by corporates? What if she’s working with them?
Is this creating buzz? Yes. Are we seeing massive amounts of people gathering? Yes. May this create some push in the right direction? Yes. And that’s what I care about. And unless she’s a 20-something actress, the fact remains that she’s 16. What significant life choices have YOU made at 16? What significant life choices have YOU made at any age that, under spotlight, people wouldn’t criticise?
I understand some people care about the sincerity, and I can’t judge that. I also can’t judge people questioning that or trying to understand if she’s genuine.
All in all, I’m glad that the topic is on the rise. Once again, hats off to my father for seeing this years and years ago and I most certainly hope it won’t come to the dystopia part.
PS: I’ve found the pictures on Google, without sources. If you own the picture and want me to give you credit or remove it, please let me know.