I am not one to say “I love kids,” because saying that implies that children are like marigolds, always yellow, blooming. Give them water and sunlight and they are sure to delight you with their beauty.
Children have needs that are varied, diverse and can be unpredictable. They are not marigolds. They are individuals and can be complex and challenging. They can be angry, aggressive and determined, soft, considerate and generous. So, I don’t love children but I love the way that children express their diversity and humanity.
I have found our collective reaction to Greta Thunberg at times to be objectifying and patronizing. Of course she is adorable! There is no denying it and there is no question that Greta has our attention. But are we really hearing her? Are we grasping her message?
You will recall that when she addressed the UN and asked “How dare you?” She was outraged and she has good reason to be! Our mistakes, shortsightedness, complacency and greed have compelled her to advocate on everyone’s behalf and as a result, we are kind of amused by it. Valerie Plante, the mayor of Montreal, even expressed this amusement and delight in a radio interview last week, “It’s wonderful” she said. It is wonderful but Greta’s message is also disturbing. We should be ashamed of ourselves and our global climate situation. And we should be in awe that this message is being delivered to so many by someone who otherwise would be ignored due to their age and / or gender.
I am inspired by the intelligence, grit and capacity of a teenager who has reminded us of the consequence, vitality and necessity of young people, of their efficacy, depth and leadership. Not in a patronizing, objectifying way or a source of entertainment, but as a bringer of truth, as a source of wisdom and I would go so far as to say, a modern day prophet. She serves as a voice of reason in a sea of despair.
Let us not minimize Greta’s message or the message of children. Let us hear them, consider them and respond accordingly. Children are not marigolds and they are certainly not here for beauty or entertainment. Let’s love and listen and respond with the respect, attention, authority and dignity that they deserve.
We want to know, what will you do to change? How has Greta’s message and determination inspired you to take action and responsibility?