Videos of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden, addressing world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit are circling news outlets and the internet. Thanks to modern technology, she has effectively become the worldwide face of the climate action movement.
In her address, Thunberg shamed the complacency of the leaders.
“This is all wrong; I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
Is she right? Should a person who cannot legally drink, sign a contract or drive a car in most countries be leading world leaders on such a dire, pertinent initiative?
Thunberg is being received as “a catalytic leader,” spurring grassroots action according to an NBC News report. Our own Twitter timelines have been filled with videos of our peers praising Thunberg.
Locally, members of the Shippensburg University Green League joined worldwide climate protests in the academic quad.
There is no denying it. The youth of the world — and a considerable number of adults — are listening and following Thunberg. She may be young, but Thunberg is inspiring society to take more action than our world’s elected leaders are.
According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump plans to roll back 85 environmental rules. He has completed 53 thus far.
Whether you believe these rollbacks are intended to destroy the planet, make a quick buck or have nothing to do with climate change, it is clear that President Trump is being outpaced by a child in terms of action taken on behalf of combating climate change — and all she has done is speak about it.
At what point does a child need to become the face of a movement? There is no doubt that having a child chair a movement makes it more innocent and emotionally moving. But is it truly ethical for adults to allow a child to lead a movement?
Think about the commercials that are aired in between your favorite shows. Which ones are more memorable? The really informative ones, or the ones with imagery of a children?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew the power of young people. It’s one thing to see clips of police officers attack blacks; however, he used images of children suffering at the expense of racism to move people to act.
The fate of the world should not rest on the shoulders of a 16-year-old. There is a reason world leaders are elected — they should be leading us. But when they fail to step up to the plate and take charge on the issues that will impact everyone, perhaps it is then acceptable to allow a child such as Thunberg to answer the call:
“Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. And all you can talk about is the money.”
A spelling error in this commentary's headline has been corrected.