If you’ve been following the latest environmentalist and climate change news, or just been on Facebook, you might have noticed a lot of videos about Greta Thunberg. She’s become an internet sensation, and a beacon for climate activists. There are several things about her, in my opinion, that make her such a big inspiration. She is young and autistic, and she draws both young and old climate activists to her banner. She also inspires the youth to take action and claim back their future and their planet.
But you might also have noticed a lot of controversy surrounding her. Everyone, from the general populace, to presidents and leaders have taken to mocking the young activist.
So Why Do So Many People Hate Greta Thunberg?
She’s only sixteen years old
How would you like it if a teenager came up to you and started telling you how you were supposed to live your life? Chances are that you’d laugh in their face and tell them to go back to school. So, to see a teenager gain such a large following really gnaws on the egos of many people – especially grown men. The fact that she’s an inspiration to so many, and is considered a leader by many, is almost like a personal insult to them. Especially those who believe that women shouldn’t have an opinion in the first place.
Her impassioned speech at the UN had me in tears. But to see her on that stage, in a pink shirt amongst all the black, just drove home how different she was. I think it was that youth that felt so out of place at the summit, that made her speech that much more impactful. And it wasn’t long before the youth flocked to the new slogan of “How dare you!”.
Even worse, she holds those who can make changes in the adult world forcefully and publicly responsible. Considering that most of these are those adult men I mentioned earlier, you can imagine that you don’t like being told off by a sixteen-year-old.
Even Donald Trump needed to get in on the action, mocking Greta with a tweet: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”.
Greta Thunberg is on the Spectrum, dealing with Asperger’s and struggles with OCD.
What’s worse than a child telling you what to do? How about a child who is considered ‘mentally ill’ because she has Asperger’s? Let me just make a note here of how ridiculous that is.
But it has given a lot of people ammo to fire at her. At least as far as they’re concerned. According to an Australian newspaper, Greta is “the deeply disturbed messiah of the global warming movement”.
Columnist Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun said, “I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru.”
She’s been called mentally ill, handicapped, freakish, disabled, and more. In my own Facebook Feed, I’ve seen people make inappropriate comments. One was quite disgusting in saying that she was ‘probably experiencing her first period’, and that she should ‘f*** off.’
But what people don’t understand is that her Asperger’s has allowed her to ignore social cues. And, in ignoring them, she’s become one: a symbol to youth globally that they can, and should, speak up.
She’s famously described her Asperger’s as a “superpower”, allowing her to cut through the noise and see to the heart of the issue. Maybe it is her superpower – because she can see what a lot of us can’t or won’t.
She doesn’t pull her punches.
Our young people are starting to see and do things in a way that older generations don’t. They’ve reached a point of ‘We’ve had enough, and we’re not afraid to say it anymore.’. The old ways don’t appeal to them anymore, and the world they live in is more important than the money they can make destroying it.
Greta Thunberg is the very embodiment of this attitude. She walks into Congress and tells them to do better without second thought. It’s more than a sign of someone who doesn’t respect “the old ways”. She is standing up as someone who won’t defer to a ‘sensible adult’ just because they tell her to stay in school.
People also enjoy pretending that everything is just fine – ignorance is bliss. But Greta mercilessly tears that blindfold off. The idea of climate change strikes fear into the heart of many and we react to fear in many different ways. Some, like Greta, take it head-on and puts it right there in your face while demanding that you drop everything and solve it — or we die. And people, especially, it seems, many grown conservative men, can’t handle the fact that a child is telling them that their worst fear is about to come true.
Which brings me to…
She draws our fears out into the open.
“I guess they must feel threatened by us,” she wrote this week. “But the world is waking up.”
And it’s true – chances are very good that people feel threatened. For years, the young people were told to be quiet and do what they’re told. But they’ve turned the tables on us. And let’s face it, climate change is terrifying. The Amazon and the Savannah is burning. Even parts of the Arctic are on fire. Sea levels are rising. Storms, wildfires, droughts and floods are becoming more frequent and more volatile.
And denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
People don’t like being made to feel bad about their life choices. It’s human nature. We mock vegans. We don’t like sober people at parties. And when a child is willing to sail across the Atlantic for two weeks rather than flying, while you jet off to your next holiday… that’s going to make you feel bad. The kind of ‘bad’ that will make you lash out.
That’s why people don’t like Greta, and why she seems to be so triggering. She symbolizes a truth and a future these people just can’t accept. So they ridicule her, even though they’re afraid of her. They’re terrified that she stands for youth, determination, and change.
My favorite line is from the Irish Times:
Why None of it Matters to Greta.
“The haters are as active as ever”, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist posted on social media on Thursday, “going after me, my looks, my clothes, my behavior and my differences”. Anything, she says, rather than talk about the climate crisis.
Yes, they make her angry, but not because of the attacks on her personally. That doesn’t matter to her at all. What does make her angry is that they would do anything to try and change the topic from climate change, to her. The thing is, Greta Thunberg has avoided common traps that environmentalist fall into, by not endorsing any specific reforms or policies herself.
“I can’t really speak up about things like [politics],” she told Wallace-Wells, “no one would take me seriously.”
She showed this very clearly when she submitted the IPCC’s report on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in lieu of testifying to the House. Attached was a short letter that said: “I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action.” She refuses to allow her opinions to become the focus.
It’s the science that matters.
The truth is this:
Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She’s inspired leaders around the world. She’s the catalyst for one of the most earth-shaking global youth and climate action movements to date; a revolutionary icon for the young, the climate activists… and anyone who gives a whit about our impending ecological apocalypse.
Personally, I highly respect Greta, and cheer for everyone who rallies to her banner. And for those who are so terrified of her… Change is coming. Grow a real pair or get off the boat.
What do you think about Greta Thunberg, and her activism? Please let me know!
Until next time, stay Greenish!