People talk about Greta Thunberg. A lot. Passionately. People react to her speeches. A lot. Very emotionally. When I ask people about what they think about her, I almost always get an answer about how they feel. I have heard everything from „I love her“ to „I don’t like her“, „She’s so annoying“ or „She’s getting on my nerves“. It’s weird for me to get all these emotional answers because I don’t have any feelings about her. Instead I have a lot of thoughts. This week’s blog is about encouraging people to put aside their emotional reactions of fear, defiance or dislike and think more. And then act on what they think.
Some people I asked about their thoughts on Greta allowed me to post their answers. Regardless of their first, emotional reaction, we could have an adult, reasonable conversation about Greta Thunberg’s role in our present and they all agreed we need her.
Betty: „I find her too melodramatic. When she cries that we adults have stolen her youth, I have to think about my mother as she grew up in the years after the WWII. And all the refugee children running away from war only to end up in deplorable camps and live under most horrible conditions. Their youth has been stolen indeed. But I think that „Fridays for Future“ is a good thing. Before it I didn’t think about plastic waste, I just did my shopping in supermarkets. Meanwhile I’m more conscious about the way I do my grocery shopping and I try to buy more package free items. I’m also more conscious the environment in general.“
Viki: „It’s a difficult question. I think some things are not ok about this Friday for Future movement. Like sticking offensive phrases on cars, even if these cars are SUVs. Sometimes they are too extreme. But I think we definitely have to consider our consumption choices. We have to implement already existing environmentally friendly solutions, even if they cost more. We humans are egoistic by nature, so we need help from our politicians. The governments and world leaders have to make new rules, even if they are uncomfortable.“
Chris: „The really cool thing about Greta is that she had the courage to say out loud: Hey, not everything is ok, even if you think the future will have nothing to do with you. It’s this sustainability thought, guys, thing 2 or 3 generations ahead, you should react now, so that shit doesn’t hit the fan when you’re dead and gone. This is what is very good about what she did. What people have done with Greta Thunberg is too much. You can see that about the poor girl, you can see she’s running on empty. What she wanted to achieve was for the world to start thinking and what people have transformed her into is an absolute PR machine. We have the best example with the German railway, she posted a photo sitting on the floor in a crowded train, because probably her PR agency told her to do that. And the German railway made a public statement that she had a first class ticket. But what she wanted to point out was that there aren’t enough trains and that’s why they are almost always much to crowded. And that’s a fact. This is not about faking a tweet, this is about making a point.“
Diana: „She is now a young adult, but when she started all this she was still a child. The most impressing thing about her is that she shows that when you fight for a cause, you can get very far, and you can start a movement. People like to say that they cannot have an impact on their own, they cannot change much. She is the best example for the fact that every human being can make an impact, and that something starting very small can get very big fast. A 16 year old girl has managed to make the whole world listen to her and make the topic of climate crisis the most talked about topic in today’s social discourse. Whatever people might think or feel about her, she has made millions of people reconsider their consumption habits. Before Greta I never thought much about plastic waste or sustainability. But now I make small changes in my life constantly. And this is what it’s all about, making changes, starting somewhere and improving constantly.“
The reason for all the negative reactions to Greta Thunberg is simply fear. In the western world we have grown very comfortable with all the things that make our lives easier. We love to have things, we love our steak houses, our burger restaurants, our cars, our nicely furnished apartments, the abundance in food. It’s not easy to start giving up some of these things. I don’t expect people to completely give up eating meat (though it would be nice) or never drive their cars again. But I do expect reasonable consumption. I do expect reasonable, considerate production choices based on sustainability concepts and respect toward beings other than us humans. I do expect our politicians to invest in solutions to our massive pollution problems, not in constant economical growth. I think the phenomenon Greta Thunberg is the best thing that could have happened to this world because now that the whole world knows where we stand, I finally have hope again for humankind.