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It's not about Greta

Photo By: commons.wikimedia.org


Sydney Shadeck, Opinion Editor

It’s not about Greta. Greta didn’t want it to be about Greta. It shouldn’t be about Greta. But the focus is dangerously close to shifting to her person rather than her message.


The 16 year-old Swedish climate activist has captured the attention of citizens and leaders alike, being one of the key figures in the global climate strikes that more than 150 countries have participated in so far. 


NBC News reports Thurnberg’s “efforts are building real momentum,” with praise from climate scientists across the globe who are thankful for the attention she has brought to the subject as nations worldwide take note of her impassioned addresses. She has taken on some of the most powerful individuals in the world, namely those in attendance at the United States Congress and the United Nations meetings, in scathing ways -- one of which was even been referred to as “the most powerful speech ever heard” by Saleemul Huq, the director for International Centre for Climate Change & Development in Bangladesh. Through these addresses, she has mobilized millions of people in protest and it seems that she will continue to do so.


There is no doubt that her influence is both impactful and necessary, but she is an individual speaking for the masses, not solely for herself. She adds the humanity, the youth and sense of hope that we needed to see in the largely scientific argument. A child, composed and strong, begging for, or perhaps ‘demanding’ is a more fitting term, the safe and healthy future she and her peers deserve remind us of the urgency and reality of the crisis. She is a face – a real human showing honest emotions – to put to the statistics of an upcoming generation that will face difficulties unlike anything we know yet.


Her inspiration for striking, as told in her interview with Democracy Now!, came from watching the American students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School demonstrating following the well-remembered Florida mass shooting in February of 2018. The youth and young-adults are making their voices heard – far more than anyone had imagined possible prior. If anything, the engagement of this sector of population is one good thing to come from the political climate. They will be watching, speaking, and expecting responses (through action more than words) from the leaders that they will be anxiously waiting to replace otherwise.


Quite honestly, I am frightened that this burst of energy will fizzle out as the public grows tired of the strength and vigor that Greta brings, as they do with most any wonder-ball of energy. In the past, our attention spans have been too weak to stay as involved as we are currently, no matter how dire the consequences may be. There is a possibility that this will change, though. At the very least, we can hope that the spike in attention Greta has caused will come to rest at a place much more elevated than it was before so that we may still stand a chance at making the necessary systematic changes.


Greta’s dedication is inspirational and warranted. Her approach is provoking and powerful. Her message is unmistakable and echoed loudly. Let her be heard, but not too talked about. We need to refocus and remember what the fight is, not only who is fighting it.