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October 9, 2019

Seeking a Better World

Hayden Duke

Recently the entire world was treated to a teenager temper tantrum on the world stage. Self-appointed climate savior Greta Thunberg lectured world leaders on climate change. She accused them of destroying her dreams and ruining her future.


Keep in mind, this activist, is also the one who took a yacht across the Atlantic, her boat buoyed by the ocean water and her immense privilege.


While I disagree with her presentation, I am happy that she has encouraged other young people to take up the banner of their passions and lobby for change. That is incredible.


I also don’t disagree with some of what she says. We can do so much better on the climate. The human race has not been a good stewards of our planet. We must also act with urgency.


But, such an abrasive attack, especially coming from one so privileged, will not succeed in the long term. It will generate headlines as political poltroon’s cozy up to her and hope they get her seal of approval and be spared her wrath.


Notice the words she used, the capitalization is mine. “You have stolen MY dreams and MY childhood with your empty words.” I’m an only child, I recognize selfishness when I see it. She isn’t concerned with others, yet she is held up as an aspirational leader.


I would invite Ms. Thunberg to say these words about her stolen dreams to the children in the Syrian refugee camps, to the children working 18-hour days in the diamond fields of Liberia and Sierra Leone, to the young girls born into poverty and societal oppression the world over. Shout your words at the generation of Iraqi’s who lost multiple family members. Scream them at the children of our service members whose fathers and mothers have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.


Those people, and many others, have had their dreams stolen and never even knew their childhood. They had to grow up very quickly. How many of them would love to have a “stolen” childhood that includes trans-Atlantic voyages and meeting with heads of state?


Contrast this with a young woman from the United Arab Emirates, Alia al-Mansoori. This 17-year-old is already a New York University fellow in Abu Dhabi, has had an experiment go up in space to the International Space Station and works regularly with Harvard researchers and astronauts.


I had the pleasure of speaking with her recently. Her words, just as passionate as Ms. Thunberg’s, were extremely uplifting and positive, every word said with a smile but with a constitution of steel behind them.


She wants to be the first person on Mars. I have no doubt that she will do just that. She was born in a region of the world where women, especially ambitious women, have struggled to reach their full potential over the years. She didn’t scream that her childhood was stolen, she took the initiative and is, literally, out of this world.


Passion is important in this world where conformity seems to be more highly prized. We need more people who are going to get out of line and protest in favor of a better world for all. What we don’t need are more shrill words and attacks, that doesn’t motivate people. Passion and an uplifting message does.


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