The im­po­tent rage at Thun­berg says a lot more about her in­sipid tor­men­tors

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - OPINION -

IT is a ques­tion many peo­ple have found them­selves ask­ing in re­cent weeks. What is it about a 16-year-old school­girl from Swe­den that can in­spire such vis­ceral ha­tred from old an­gry men? Is it righ­teous in­dig­na­tion at the au­dac­ity of a child to point out their gen­er­a­tion’s greed and fail­ings? Could it be fear that the next gen­er­a­tion is ris­ing up to chal­lenge their cosy es­tab­lish­ment?

Per­haps it’s just guilt at the fact that while they watched the world around them burn they did ab­so­lutely noth­ing to stop it?

It could be all of these things and more – sim­ple ha­tred is def­i­nitely a mo­tive for some of the trolls tar­get­ing Greta Thun­berg – but one thing is cer­tain, the Swedish cli­mate ac­tivist in­spires a pas­sion­ate re­ac­tion.

Greta Thun­berg’s mes­sage on cli­mate change is sim­ple – per­haps the rea­son it has been so widely em­braced – cli­mate change is real, it will af­fect the fu­ture of ev­ery child on the planet and world lead­ers need to lis­ten to sci­en­tists and do some­thing.

The Swedish teen’s de­liv­ery is blunt and un­com­pro­mis­ing and she dis­plays no fear or weak­ness in the face of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic power.

Unafraid to speak her mind and to do so in graphic terms if nec­es­sary, Ms Thun­berg has gal­vanised global opin­ion and helped fos­ter a sea change in how the world thinks about cli­mate change.

Given that her mes­sage – if it is truly acted upon – has the po­ten­tial to turn en­tire in­dus­tries on their heads, like the power sec­tor for ex­am­ple, it is un­der­stand­able that many pow­er­ful fig­ures are wor­ried.

That fear has man­i­fested it­self in count­less at­tacks against Ms Thun­berg and her fol­low­ers. The ac­cu­sa­tions fly thick and fast.

Her Asperger’s is high­lighted. She is la­belled a stooge of fame-seek­ing par­ents or of some ne­far­i­ous lib­eral ca­bal.

Other crit­ics claim she of­fers no so­lu­tions which is true as she sim­ply asks peo­ple to lis­ten to sci­en­tists. Oth­ers claim Ms Thun­berg’s own ar­gu­ments are un­sci­en­tific.

The com­mon thread, though, is her age. Like all good lit­tle girls the petu­lant Swede should know her place, shut her mouth and re­spect her el­ders.

Af­ter all, what could a teenager pos­si­bly of­fer the world? Here are a few other ex­am­ples from the his­tory books. Joan of Arc led a French army to vic­tory over the English at 18; Louis Braille in­vented the Braille sys­tem aged 15; Bobby Fis­cher be­came a chess grand mas­ter also at 15; Mary Shelly be­gan writ­ing Franken­stein aged 17; Bar­bara Rose Johns was 15 when she helped kick­start the fight against seg­re­ga­tion in US schools; pi­o­neer­ing jour­nal­ist Nel­lie Bly be­gan her ca­reer at 16. There are many more.

Re­cently there was ed­u­ca­tion ac­tivist Malala Yousafzai, whose stand against the Tal­iban saw them try to mur­der her. She won the No­bel Peace Prize at 17. She is the youngest per­son to ever achieve the hon­our.

Greta Thun­berg is the lat­est in a long line of in­spi­ra­tional young peo­ple who helped shape our world. She shouldn’t be den­i­grated for her youth, she should be cel­e­brated for it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.