Power column: take greta thunberg seriously

The climate activist from Sweden has got something going with Friday-for-Future. One should not overdo it with the veneration.

She is no saint: activist Greta Thunberg Photo: dpa

The hype surrounding Greta Thunberg is taking on threatening features. The young girl is not to be blamed for this. The 16-year-old can’t help it if large sections of the public go crazy. She has a cause that she is bitterly serious about, and she strikes the right note to convince and carry others along. So far, so impressive. The problem is not with her, but with many of the people who respond to her.

It’s relatively easy to brush off criticism of her and the school strikes she’s promoting to further the fight against climate change. It comes across as so bad-tempered and mopey that it’s hard to take it seriously. Climate protection is a matter for professionals, explains FDP Chairman Christian Lindner. One could just as well say that the terms of the Brexit should be left to the British government alone, which knows best what is good for its country and the rest of the world.

Professionals have convincingly demonstrated their superior abilities in many fields in recent years. What’s the latest news from Berlin’s major airport? Not a question that Greta Thunberg would like, of course. Nevertheless.

Other critics think that young people simply enjoy skipping school, that it’s not about the cause at all. They clearly don’t want to sacrifice the time they spend playing video games in the afternoon. Is that considered an argument?

This text comes from the taz am wochenende. Always available from Saturday on the newsstand, in the eKiosk or in the practical weekend subscription. And around the clock on Facebook and Twitter.

As if the realization that most human behaviors are fed by more than one motive is new. If volunteers everywhere didn’t also value the community and the feeling of being needed – there would be very few left. But that does not speak against them. It’s good that they are committed.

So the criticism of Greta Thunberg and her movement is banal. Less banal and much more disturbing is the adoration she receives. Nobel Peace Prize? Seriously? She’s sixteen. Sixteen! Is she allowed to be that, or is she just a projection screen?

One could call it absurd or sentimental – oh, the committed youth, how beautiful! – or, like me, chummily, to have given her a stage at the economic forum in Davos. But that doesn’t ruin a life. The Nobel Peace Prize can do that. What is to come after that? Those who do not care about Greta Thunberg because her cause is so important do not take her seriously as a person and with her biography.

It is well known that the right, worldwide, wants a charismatic leader. That parts of the left apparently also long for an innocent figure of light who knows everything and who can’t be blamed for anything was a new insight for me. Not a pleasant one. But I could have known that.

The veneration shown to Greta Thunberg is reminiscent of religious awakenings.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 to the then 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai pointed the way, as did the awarding of this honor to the newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009. An immature advance praise. The reverence shown to Greta Thunberg is reminiscent of religious revival experiences. Presumably, one has to be grateful that – at least so far – the Virgin Mary has not yet appeared to her.

What’s wafting there? Once again, the 16-year-old can’t be blamed for any of this. But could her fans, at least temporarily, switch on their minds again? Figures of light and visionaries will not save the world. And in the past, leftists didn’t need them either.

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