Rarely is the world moved by a teenager in the way it was moved yesterday by the words of Greta Thunberg. Having travelled by sailboat across the Atlantic (she refused to fly) in order to attend the UN Climate Summit, one might say she’d had plenty of time to rehearse her speech. And when her moment came, she delivered it, fully loaded and without restraint. She was emotional, she was angry, she was fearless. In Thunberg, the world has seen the future - and there is hope.
It’s a courageous thing to speak truth to power but this young lady has it in shed loads as she looked to her prepared script as she spoke. "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Now anyone can get angry and shout out ‘How dare you!’ I get that. But this was different. Only 12 months earlier, as a 15 year old she took a lone stand against climate change (one of the three major challenges of next generation) and now she’s witnessed a mass movement of people across the globe with the same cry. We are witnessing a seismic cultural shift and in Thungberg, have seen one of the global leaders of tomorrow.
Futurist Patrick Dixon tweeted: ‘An astonishingly passionate wake up call to humankind with tremendous integrity - and vulnerability. True Leadership is not about position or power but about moral authority.’
In a world where the young are criticised for their apathy and entitlement here you have a young person whose passion has been channelled to global change. She is the voice of a generation of activists who are not prepared to just sit by and do nothing. It’s their future - and they can see where its heading. "For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
Each generation is set apart by the passionate oratory of a lone voice speaking out against injustice. What we witnessed yesterday in Thungberg’s speech will go down amongst the greats. "You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”
History teaches that the world is changed by people like Greta Thungberg. People mobilise around vision and leadership - we are moved by a cause and as a causes go this is as big as it gets. Anger in the face of injustice; tears at the lack of concern; resolution in the face of fear - these are the levers that turn the world - and yesterday the world was moved by the passion of a young woman who refused to be silenced. ‘"We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not. "Thank you."’