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BY SARA HOLLIDAY, n/OEF

August 2, 2019


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Greta Thunberg is not only raising her own prophetic voice, she's inspiring and goading people around the world.
Greta Thunberg to Attend New York Climate Talks. She’ll Take a Sailboat - from the New York Times. “Together with many other young people across the Americas and the world, I will be there, even if the journey will be long and challenging,” she said. “We will make our voices heard. It is our future on the line, and we must at least have a say in it.”

Elsewhere in the Times: Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear. “Climate change isn’t going to discriminate between red states and blue states, so red-state actors have to start engaging on these issues,” said [Will] Galloway, 19, who is heading into his sophomore year and is chairman of the South Carolina Federation of College Republicans. “But we haven’t been. We’ve completely ceded them to the left.”
But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” - Numbers 11:29
Greta Thunberg, the remarkable 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, is in the news again as she prepares to travel to the Americas by racing boat, thus minimizing the carbon footprint of the trip. The proprietors offered her a free ride on the Malizia II; to meet her exacting standards, all its commercial sponsor logos have been removed for the occasion. She's been warned that the trip will be uncomfortable and possibly unsafe, but she's not afraid. Just as she has been since her first school-striking protest, she's laser-focused on her message.

Ms. Thunberg is seriously one of my heroes/sheroes right now, partly because she's the kind of person who would make the trip described above, but also for reasons like these:
  • She gave a classy - and, more importantly, redirecting - response to this guy trolling her in Rupert Murdoch-run papers. When Andrew Bolt called her "deeply disturbed," she replied that of course she was disturbed - "about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?"
  • She doesn't have to "overcome" her Asperger's diagnosis, but rather constantly builds on its strengths: “'I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,' she explained to New Yorker reporter Masha Gessen. 'It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest.....I can do the same thing for hours.' Thunberg discovered her special interest in climate change when she was just 9 years old, and she couldn’t understand why everyone on the planet wasn’t similarly obsessed with preventing it.....A visceral feeling of repulsion toward deceit and hypocrisy is also common among people on the spectrum. As Thunberg told the BBC, 'I don’t fall for lies as easily as regular people, I can see through things.'”
  • Most of all, like Moses in this line from Numbers, Ms. Thunberg does what's right, inspires others, then directs the spotlight to them. If you look at her Twitter feed (and please look at her Twitter feed), you'll see she spends her striking Fridays retweeting and celebrating mostly young people around the world who are joining her in protest. Now young people around the world - even young conservatives - are clearly seeing the urgent demands of the planet and our species where often the grownups are blinded.
A lot of coverage of Ms. Thunberg likens her to Cassandra - the legendary princess of Troy who was never believed when she predicted the future. To me, though, the comparison is much more apt with the prophets of Israel: not fortune-tellers, but women and men who put naked truth before the people and demanded that they become their truer and more ethical selves - and then stepped back and handed them the responsibility.

A few more great quotes from Ms. Thunberg:
  • "I don’t support any political movement, or any political views. I’m against all forms of fascism and I’ll never support any kind of violence. All changes must come from democracy, equal rights, nonviolence and peace. Saying no to fascism isn’t a political view, it’s common sense." (on Twitter, July 27)
  • “You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular....You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.” (to the attendees of the United Nations’ COP24 conference in Poland, December 2018) 
  • "Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced." (introducing a song on the upcoming album by The 1975)

GlobalClimateStrike.net says, "This September, millions of us will walk out of our workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. Our house is on fire - let’s act like it. We demand climate justice for everyone."

It's relatively easy for me to take a Friday off to join younger people in rising up. If you can do that too, seriously consider it. If you can't walk out, though, no shame: find a climate-justice activity that's simpler or closer to home - it makes a statement just to lift up voices like Greta Thunberg's.

God the lover of creation and of humanity, we give you thanks for the prophets throughout history who have shown us a better way to live. We give thanks especially for the inspiration and talents of Greta Thunberg and all who join her as defenders of our beleaguered home. Protect Greta in her travels and in the travails of teenagerhood, especially teenagerhood in the spotlight. And goad all of us to do our part to protect the earth that our young people are inheriting. In the name of the Firstborn of All Creation, we pray - Amen.
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