Greta Thunberg excoriated the powerful for betraying the powerless with yet another viral speech. If she annoys you, however, you’re the problem.
Bill Ayers was the brain (and the voice) behind the Weather Underground, the group that took 1960s counterculture beyond the means of an aversion to violence and free-love favoring more tumultuous action, including sneaking a bomb into a ladies’ bathroom within the Pentagon on Ho Chi Minh’s birthday.
The Underground were a force born in the antagonism of racial violence, police billy clubs, and a lying President (or two) in the White House. The status quo was the problem, as was the lack of a meaningful dialogue between old and young. His famous quote, “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at,” is a rather visceral example of belief, but it speaks a certain truth: if you’re not going to listen, we’ll just crank up the volume.
I was reminded of it today with the words of Greta Thunberg.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 23, 2019
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg said while addressing a United Nations summit, excoriating the old for betraying the young. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”
Ostensibly, she’s pissed, and it’s our fault. The tendency, therefore, is to ignore her. To cast her views into the realms of extremism.
In the words of a few on social media, Greta is “a cow,” or “a muppet,” or “a child who should know better.”
The past certainly echoes the present, as a unison marching of the people has been ignored by those in power. Just as Nixon ignored the Vietnam War moratorium, Trump (and Morrison) ignored the millions that grouped to protest their handling of the climate.
Side note, it’s worth mentioning that Nixon’s ignoble lie, his fêted “silent majority” (those who sat at home, but politely didn’t care for the demonstrations) is repeatedly rehashed today by the same generation, with Scott Morrison heralding the “Quiet Australians” for his election win and Donald Trump bigging up the same echo chamber.
Clearly, if the words of Greta Thunberg grate, you’re dealing with the guilt of your own projection, and you’re the reason why we’re in this position today. I’m no different. We’re children raising children. We fear the removal of the status quo, something that we’ve had to earn.
However, we find ourselves in extraordinary times. Our personal feelings do not matter. In the words of another teen, Alexandria Villaseñor, a 14-year-old New Yorker, “… each one of us had our rights violated and denied, our futures are being destroyed.”
We’ve had our turn, and we’ve done nothing with it. It’s time to listen. And being “condescended” by our children is perhaps a treatment that our climate of indifference deserves.