Stop hating a teenager because you fear her message | Stop Pesten NU


Stop hating a teenager because you fear her message

I really cannot understand why so many people around the world are so angrily focused on the origin of Greta Thunberg's message instead of concentrating on the content of the actual message. And I cannot understand why many of the ones at least paying attention to the message are so furiously challenging it.

At first I was shocked by the fact that people may show so much rage and disapproval, both towards a child and towards the content of what she was saying. It felt so inhuman! Then I realized that what was driving that reaction was a mix of feelings that were instead very human. It's a mix of incredulity (how can I child be smarter than ME?), of ego and pride (how can I child dare thinking that she is smarter than ME?), of guilt (am I really destroying the planet where my children and the children of my children will need to leave?), and of fear (if what this child says is true my current world is totally messed up. Is my lifestyle going to radically change?)

And there is a very common, very human, very visceral mechanism to cope with these emotional, psychological and (eventually) physical threats. It's the first one you use: you deny them. Denial of the carrier of the message and denial of the message. If you can't deny any of the two then you transfer your guilt somewhere else, you point the finger at another problem, you distract yourself and the people that surround you - or that you lead, for instance if you are an head of state - focusing on a different issue.

1. Denial of the messenger

Even if you think that a 16 years old girl in this modern society we live in, hyper connected and global by nature, shouldn’t be able, by definition, to have an articulate and profound point of view on the current environmental crisis of our planet and needs a puppeteer behind the scenes to infuse that perspective and content into her mind - even if you believe so! - why to focus so much on where the message is coming from instead of debating and embracing the actual message and its positive and disruptive meaning?

Spending so much time and energy to clarify if the carrier of this positive message is also the actual source of it is like spending all your time debating if a singer of a song is also his author instead of enjoying the beautiful meaning of the lyrics and the magic of the melody. Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Marvin Gaye, Rihanna, and many others never wrote any of their lyrics and yet they mesmerize the world with those words and their music. If you really cannot believe in Greta as the thinker and author of her message, then at least look at her as you would look at Frank Sinatra: forget if the message comes from her or from an author behind her, just embrace the message and react to it.

Somebody wrote me recently, more synthetically and very eloquently, that attacking Greta as a human being or spending time hunting for the people behind her message - if any - and blaming them, is like spending time blaming the fuel gauge in your car when you run out of gas. I would add: you can discuss if the gauge is correct, if the people that designed it also calibrated it in the right way, if it is accurate. You can do all of this and more. But the point is that your car is not moving anymore and it's just obvious that you have been using all your gas in your long journey. Therefore who cares about the nature and the design of your fuel gauge! Just open your eyes, acknowledge the evidence of the problem, find a way to fix it and stop debating who made you aware of that problem. If the world needed a teenager to carry that message and finally pay attention to the environmental crisis and wake up, then let’s just celebrate the fact that that teenager came forward and decided to do something about it.

And then eventually let’s discuss why the world didn’t wake up before, if you really want to waste your time debating some other topic.

2. Denial of the message.

Then there is people that challenge the fact that the message is too extreme, that the environmental crisis is not that bad or is not that certain or eventually that there is nothing to do to stop it. Even in that case, can we agree that there is actually a crisis, of some form and shape, and can we just accept and embrace a challenge and a call to action? The message may be accurate or not accurate, but what's really important here is that there is a crisis and Greta is waking up the world around it with an impact that very few people ever had before. Let's embrace the broad meaning of what she is saying, and let's now focus on the proper actions to fix the problem.

3. Transfer of guilt.

Then there is people that criticize the life that this young girl is living, supposedly deprived of her childhood, brainwashed by her parents - or by obscure adults behind the scenes. I feel guilty for the conditions in which I will leave this planet to my children, so let's concentrate on finding other parents and other adults to criminalize for some other reason. Even in that case, who defined what a childhood should be? I would argue that this child is making experiences that very few children in the world will ever have the luck to make and is learning more from these experiences than what any school can offer any of our children and is making more friendships and deep connections around the world through her cause than any child can aspire to in such a short time. Is a different childhood? Yes it is. Is it a bad one because of this? I don’t think so. Maybe better, eventually just different. 

Ok, now you can let your rage out and crucify me. But please do it gently.



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