Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden has recently gained popularity due to her climate activism. She has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Her journey began in May 2018, when she won a writing competition that lead her to meet a handful of activists who inspired her school strike. At first she didn’t get any support from her parents and peers, so she started protesting solo outside Sweden’s parliament to highlight the problem of climate change. For three weeks since August 2018 until the Swedish election in September she picketed parliament.
After her posts on Twitter and Instagram went viral, thousands of students from around the world – from the European Union countries, the United Kingdom, the USA, to Russia and Australia – held strike in their schools to push their governments for a better carbon emission reduction policies.
Here are at least three things that we can learn from Greta:
- Global issues are children’s issues
Greta’s activism has sparked thoughts on the importance of the educational system to include global issues in their curriculum. Also our educational systems should be more focused on educating the hearts and minds, teaching love, kindness, compassion, tolerance, justice, forgiveness, peace, carefulness instead of mere materialistic values.
The goal is to encourage students to be more critical, smart, and self-motivated so that they acknowledge and care about the world they live in. What’s the point oteaching children to be smart or to be happy in life, if they are facing a bleak future because their planet is being destroyed every second?
Greta said in her speech, “I am not saying anything new, I am just saying what scientists have repeatedly said for decades. And I agree with you, I’m too young to do this. We children shouldn’t have to do this. But since almost no one is doing anything, and our very future is at risk, we feel like we have to continue.
- Differently-abled people can contribute hugely to society
Greta has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a neurological disorder that manifests itself in impaired communication and emotional processing. A child with Asperger Syndrome is often bullied by their peers, as was Greta. But instead of limiting herself, Greta has turned her condition into strength. To her, Asperger “is not a disease; it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this.”
- Parents’ support is important
Gretta’s parents Svante Thunberg, an actor, and Malena Ernman, an opera singer, have been very supportive and caring in Greta’s activism. After Greta began her climate activism they decided to change their lifestyle, turning vegan and stopping to fly to reduce their carbon footprints. Greta’s parents are example of mindful parents because they become true allies to their child.
Greta has taught us a great lesson. Coming from a young generation, she has sent us a wake-up call. It is a call that we must pick up now and act on. Before it is really too late.
Illustration by Sarah Arifin