How often do we think about standing up for something we believe in, just to quit when feeling overwhelmed by the task? Succumbing to the adage, “What can one person do?”.
It is a daunting task. One person, alone, trying to make the hordes listen. Trying to get the masses to stop and hear your message.
We’re all overwhelmed and exhausted just trying deal with our every day issues. Family, work, finances, health. . .24 hours never feels like enough. So, how can we possibly add anything else, regardless of the importance? Especially when we believe our added voice won’t matter much?
We justify that it takes the charisma of a Martin Luther King Jr., or the faith of a Mahatma Ghandi. What can an ordinary person like me hope to achieve?
That’s when someone like Greta Thunberg comes along to prove us wrong. She decided it was time to address her anguish and fears towards the adults who were leaving her generation a world destined for disaster. She needed to do something, anything, to assuage her anxieties, whether anyone else listened.
In August 2018, at 15 years old, Greta Thunberg took time off school to demonstrate outside the Swedish Parliament, holding up a sign calling for stronger climate action. Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions as they agreed to do when they signed the Paris Agreement. When no one would join her efforts, she protested by staying outside the Parliament building alone, every day for three weeks, brandishing a sign and handing out flyers.
She is quoted as saying, “ I thought I couldn’t make a difference because I was too small.” By October 2018, Thunberg’s activism evolved from a solitary protest to taking part in demonstrations throughout Europe; making several high-profile public speeches; and mobilizing a growing number of followers on social media platforms. After Sweden’s general elections, as Thunberg continued to protest in front of the Parliament building, she had started to inspire other school students across the globe to take part in similar strikes.
Four months after sitting alone, more than 20,000 students had protested in at least 270 cities. She was asked to speak at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland in January 15, 2019. (The WEF’s mission is cited as “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.) Greta’s speech galvanized the world-
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope.
But I don’t want your hope.
I don’t want you to feel hopeful.
I want you to panic.
I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
Then I want you to act.
To act as you would in a panic.
I want you to act as if the house is on fire.
Because it is.”
March 19, 2019, Greta Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel peace prize. Last Friday, September 20, 2019, millions of children joined by their parents were spurred to action by the act of one, courageous little girl. They demanded a real impact be made to stop impending climate change in over 150 countries. Hundreds of thousands protested and demanded action against climate change in Europe, Great Britain, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, North and South America. From Los Angeles, to over a quarter of a million people in New York City alone, protests occurred in all 50 states. Even hundreds of Amazon workers walked out of their Seattle offices Friday to pressure Amazon to do more to decrease their carbon footprint after acknowledging they emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, a number that comes close to pollution rates of some small nations. Worldwide, signs proclaimed, “There is no planet B”.
It’s estimated more than 4 million people protested worldwide, all because a little girl decided to sit in front of city hall and speak what was in her heart.