What Role Do Activists Like Greta Play In Today’s Day And Age?

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.” —-Greta Thunberg, at the UN Climate Summit, New York, September 23, 2019

This was a hard hitting message given by a ‘teen activist,’ yes! You  heard that right. Greta Thunberg has now become an enormously popular name round the globe. Whether we choose to acknowledge or not, but this one singular person has been able to gather a huge collective for a very crucial issue that is climate change.

In August 2018, she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament. It now involves over 100,000 schoolchildren, and is called ‘Fridays For Future.’ Every speech that Thunberg has delivered, be it in Stockholm, Helsinki, Brussels or London, has made a worldwide impact. And we can clearly infer that the scornful glance of this girl on President Trump was not meant for publicity and meme making, rather it actually has had a huge impact globally.

Ecofeminism – a branch of feminism that sees environmentalism and the relationship between women and the earth, as interlinked – is not new. What is new is that women are now taking action early on, in their early teenage years.

According to an article by Forbes, “For young women and girls, we know that role modelling is extremely important, and having an inspiring role model like Greta Thunberg is catalyzing actions across the world.”

“I kept thinking about it and I just wondered if I am going to have a future. And I kept that to myself because I’m not very much of a talker, and that wasn’t healthy. I became very depressed and stopped going to school,” said Greta in an interview. This clearly depicts what the fears of our young and conscious leaders who do not veil themselves behind the incapabilities of the society are. They dare to come forward; they have opinions and most crucially they often question: what we are actually doing for our future generations?

These statements, questions and demands of the young activists like Greta are not something hollow which lack actual substance. We can actually see a huge amount of change around us and all over the world which I think is a great achievement in itself.

Just hours after what was likely the largest worldwide climate demonstration ever – the global climate strike on September 20 led by the Fridays for Future student movement – Germany illustrated just how impervious governments can be to pressure from the streets.

In more than 160 countries, an estimated 4 million people protested the international community’s weak response thus far to global warming, and no country rallied more than Germany. As many as 1.4 million in 500 locations from the Baltic Sea to the Alps.

In Berlin, around 270,000 – according to the organizers – marched in front of the chancellery, while the Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers deliberated on the content of the long-awaited new “climate package,” which was meant to double down on cutting greenhouse gases – a direct response to the tenacious Fridays for Future movement, as well as two summers of extreme weather and alarming reports from the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Those politicos today who try to squeak by doing as little as possible on climate, like the Merkel administration, could well pay with their offices. This old guard will likely be replaced by parties attuned to the new conditions, at the latest when the teenagers are old enough to vote.

In Germany, and elsewhere in northern Europe, the Green parties’ steep ascent since the Friday protests began a year and a half ago – from 9% in the 2017 German general election to 22% today in polls – illustrates how effective the movement has been in changing consciousness and can be elsewhere, too.

“Some MPs applauded, breaching the custom of not clapping in the chamber.”

When Thunberg spoke to a meeting of some hundred and fifty journalists, activists, and political staffers, in Portcullis House, where MPs have their offices, she was flanked by Ed Miliband, the former Labour Party leader; Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary and a prominent Brexiteer; and Caroline Lucas, Britain’s sole Green Party MP, who had invited her.

The recognition that she and many other climate conscious non-governmental organisations have received at the international platform like United Nations is highly commendable and the amount of pressure her hard hitting speeches are creating globally is showing us and the so called ‘powerful’ people that what are the actual abilities of the younger generations.

The amendments and introductions of  the climate laws of major countries are happening only after the quest and strive of Greta.

My submission lies in this quote by Swami Vivekananda, “My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large.”

Featured image source: Wikimedia Commons.
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