Go Greta!

Latest News Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019

Greta Thunberg - the young Swedish Climate Change activist and student - had a greater achievement than addressing the masses on the dangers of climate denial and change. She held her dignity and did not react to the aged men (including the US President which you can read here) who trolled her and made every attempt to denigrate her.

This is one young person doing everything her generation is told they are incapable of doing. Whatever ‘Gen’ she is supposed to be, some find fault in and seek to drag her down. However, this is one woman who is courageous and her greatest challenge will now not only be to harness the energy, enthusiasm and nascent political awakening of the young but to find enough emotional strength to deal with the social media carnage these trolls create. Trump’s favourite news avenue – Fox and Friends – made sure they led the campaign to denigrate her.

Most articulate young women represent a scarier proposition to many men than climate change itself. I think many of them seem less concerned about ecological collapse and far more splenetic about a young woman reminding them of their responsibilities. She will need a level of resilience and strength to manage the parallel universe of social media crazies who will attack her mercilessly.

US commentator David Brookes writes about and compares the resume virtues with the eulogy virtues. Eulogy virtues as opposed to resume virtues - we all have these - resume virtues are what make us good at our job, whereas the eulogy virtues are the things they say about us after we are dead.

We all know the resume virtues mean less than the eulogy virtues. We have an educational system more focused on resume virtues. And the sad part is we have a better idea of how to build a good career than a good character. We have a public conversation that is over politicised and under moralised. And we spend a lot of time talking the rubbish but don’t talk about finding meaning, forgiveness etc.

Young people like Greta will be known for their eulogy virtues. She stands out as a person who is beginning with character and if there is a career destination somewhere for someone so talented, it will be because she has started with character as her guiding rudder. 

If I were Australia’s PM, I would not have adopted a sneering tone lecturing everyone about the dangers of cultivating anxiety. (The fact is, many of these existential issues are raising people’s anxiety enormously). I would have said the following. “Greta Thunberg is an outstanding person who has tapped into the zeitgeist of the young. She has a strength of character and conviction that I admire and she has every right to call me and my generation to account”. (Fact checking could have done the rest to dispute the PM’s claims on Co2 re- education).

There is a crisis of alienation which politicians fail to understand. Young people are so disconnected to the people who govern their lives. For many young people, there is a crisis of finding purpose and meaning in their lives which may account for rising levels of depression. Perhaps if there was more of a genuine, heart-felt connection to the young and a desire to listen there would not be the anxiety to which the PM referred.

Young people are sitting inside the house whilst it burns. The political class are outside discussing how to turn the fire hose on. That’s enough to give anyone anxiety. Greta has chosen the path to fight. To them, the political class has chosen to fiddle while Rome burns.

Byline: Phil Roberts, Principal of Mount Sinai College

Book a tour today!

Contact Us