AN OPEN LETTER TO GRETA THUNBERG & OTHER YOUNG MESSENGERS
Dear Greta, Autumn, Xiuhtezcatl, and others:
I feel blessed to be a member of a community that supports me in using this platform for sharing personal insights. Always these offerings come from a place of deep humility and sincere care for others, and it is from this place that I trust this letter will find its way to many of you. Firstly, I know I and many others thank you for the important messages each of you carry—messages which help us better see each other, and that will ultimately bring us all closer together. I myself have felt deeply impacted by your actions, which is what has inspired me to make this attempt to reach you personally.
As every one of us is a child of this planet, being in the spotlight as you are means life has placed you in the role of big sisters and brothers, from which many of us can learn something important. And, I also notice a desire to share my own thoughts with you, purely from a place of wanting to support you in delivering your messages and reaching even more people. As a 50-something year old white male with, in many ways, very different life experiences from each of you — and as someone who does not have the experience of being in the spotlight to the degree that you all are — I am aware that it might seem pompous or inappropriate for me to offer my own insights, and so it feels vulnerable for me to share this. At the same time, I feel a deep call to add my voice to the conversation, based in part on some of my own experiences of having my own heartfelt messages to the world be judged, critiqued and even ridiculed by the public. I understand that (to my knowledge) none of you have requested the advice of men such as myself, and so I offer these thoughts simply as considerations, with the wish that something may be helpful or spark more impact for you along the way.
- Each of you is a beautiful person, who is choosing to take courageous action toward an issue close to your heart, so some of you call yourself activists, or allow the press and public to characterize you as one. My personal concern with this term is that identities and labels can cloud our simple and shared experiences as humans, allowing for disassociation, thus making it more difficult for many to empathize with you/your cause. The label can also make you an easier target to discredit. I believe that the more you appear as you are; a human being claiming the right to have clean water to drink or to go to school regardless of your gender, the better the chance more people can relate to you, allowing your message to be met with more empathy and compassion.
- When I hear some of you use the word ‘hope’, I feel some sadness. As beautiful as this word is, the practice of hope to me seems to leave room for doubt, and I imagine that none of you wish to allow any space for doubt in the actions you take at this time. I wonder if your sentiments might be more deeply embraced by others if you focus instead on something you already have: faith. This is not necessarily a reference to a religious faith you may follow, nor is it any kind of kick-back-and-watch-it-all-unfold expectation. I refer to that blessed unrest in our hearts that keeps messengers such as yourselves focused on your message despite growing ridicule from others, and emboldens you to keep taking that next step forward. Having and exhibiting only faith in your message and it’s outcome (if that’s what you feel) carries massive potential to influence many at this time. Consider this time in your life as a test of your faith. You are, and I’m sure will continue to be chastised by many, yet your faith in yourself and humanity will likely be your greatest ally. (Greta, I heard you touch upon this faith in your address at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where you stated that “…if you really understood the situation, and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil, and that I refuse to believe.” I hear this statement as direct evidence of your faith in humanity, and I believe it will be this faith that will keep you from perceiving and labeling others as evil. Such claims that people are inherently evil will only continue to divide us and dilute the possibilities of more people in positions of power eventually joining you in support of the message you bring. May you keep your faith strong by trusting evil people do not exist—only evil behaviours, of which we are all capable at times.)
I notice the father in me wanting to protect you each, despite what I see as you all gracefully holding your ground. May you remember to ask those you trust for support as needed while you navigate your beautiful hearts. There are millions more of us who are getting ready to hold you up, as we begin to see ourselves in your eyes.
I bow deeply to each of you,