Last week, thousands of children and adults across the country and the world protested about climate change. Much of the focus has been on Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden. Some call her “the girl who changed the world” or “the voice of a generation.”
Before the protests, Thunberg met with former President Barack Obama and testified before the U.S. House Climate Crisis Committee, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, after traveling via a supposedly zero-carbon emissions yacht, sponsored by the Monaco Yacht Club, across the Atlantic Ocean. She has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but for what no one is really sure. Her passion for climate change has currently yielded no tangible results, but she uses her influence to shame politicians and adults who don’t bend to her radical ways.
Thunberg first made a splash when she took time off school, what she called a “school strike,” to protest about climate change in front of the Swedish parliament. Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and selective mutism, Thunberg demands that countries across the world make radical changes, many of which her family has already adopted.
At home, Thunberg’s views on climate change and eliminating carbon emissions, which includes absolutely zero air travel, has already cost her mother her international career as a talented mezzo-soprano opera singer. She says that her parents willingness to adopt these changes gives her some hope for the future.
While I’m a supporter of recycling and managing our natural resources in a responsible way, it makes no sense why adults would seemingly defer to a well-intentioned young idealist who is perhaps lacking in wisdom and perspective. Indeed, she can’t even legally drive in her home country for another two years. Despite her obvious convictions, she’s still a teenager with a brain that won’t fully develop until she is around age 25. She also regularly skips school in order to continue protesting and encourages other children to do the same. Thunberg likely has a natural intelligence, but she needs more education and training to tackle such a complicated geopolitical and scientific topic.
At a United Nations summit in 2018, she said, “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”
Now it is unclear what Greta’s religious beliefs are, but from a Christian perspective Thunberg should perhaps look to Jesus Christ as her example if she wants to make a great change. When Christ was 12-years-old, there may have been an opportunity for him to start his ministry. Every year Jesus’ family went to Jerusalem for the Passover, but one year instead of returning with His family He spent time debating Jewish teachers in the Temple. All who were in the Temple were astonished by His grasp of eternal truths. Now it is likely true that Christ spent His entire life in ministry, but He didn’t start His public ministry for 18 more years. The passage in Luke 2:52 concludes, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man,” between His time in the Temple and when He first started to gather his disciples.
Perhaps Thunberg and others could learn from Christ’s example, with age and self-restraint comes both wisdom and the respect of others. Waiting isn’t necessarily a bad thing.