What is Greta Thunberg really achieving?

The 16-year-old has received a wave of attacks from critics who are uncomfortable with the young activist holding truth to power. But her extraordinary inner strength is what keeps her unfazed and has driven the world to act.

I don’t want to simply dismiss Greta haters as a bunch of old white guys who taunt her “weird looking face with weird voice” like bullies on a playground. There are also many serious environmental advocates who worry that Greta is simply projecting “anti” messages.

That “resistance is futile.” That the strikes around the world, inspired by her, are wasted effort. That only direct change in “The System” matters.

In my career as an environmental activist at JUCCCE, I have decided very consciously not to protest anything. Not to strike. Not to be against people. Only to provide solutions and align incentives, like a management consultant working with decision makers. This has worked well for me in China.

So to-date, I was both in admiration of Greta’s persistence and also not very engaged in participating in the strikes.

Today, as we head into UN Climate Action Week, I want to make a stronger stand to support Greta by helping people understand the deeper consequences of what she has activated in the world.

What people see as organising “resistance,” I see as Greta tapping into her extraordinary inner strength to “draw strong boundaries.” She is holding her own to show that she does not subscribe to the current system, to the false hope of capitalism, to false practices that separate us from nature. She is at once allowing these to exist, and at the same time creating an unbreakable container of her truth.

Her truth is her knowledge of the Earth we could be living on, and of the world she wants to live in. This truth, like a jar full of fireflies, shines brightly and transparently. This brilliant light is what has attracted the attention of people around the world.

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Some people see her as a “tool being used like a puppet” by billionaires. I see that her light has attracted a lot of unwelcome bugs, but that her truth jar is impenetrable from outside forces. I see a human whose belief in her essential nature has allowed her to say “NO” very clearly to these forces.

She is teaching us how to say “NO” while allowing these people to exist. Greta knows exactly what she is doing. We need not worry about her falling prey as a victim to corporates or bullies or puppeteers. Nor do we need to be her savior.

These people say she is not advocating for “real” change, but instead supporting light solutions that tweak, but do not transform, The System. They say she is just a greenwasher. But Greta is not responsible for our reality.

Only you are responsible for your reality. Only I am responsible for creating my own reality. We are all culprits in creating this collective reality. Greta is simply holding up a lighted magnifying mirror to our own faces, to trigger us into more action ourselves. Instead of asking “is Greta doing enough of the right thing?” let us ask ourselves “are we doing enough of the right thing?

She is holding her own to show that she does not subscribe to the current system, to the false hope of capitalism, to false practices that separate us from nature. 

Some people see a child who is ungrateful for education, and they wish that she would have more respect for teachers. I see a human who is practicing the pinnacle of life education: teach learn, learn teach. She has started a global conversation that children are now having as peers with adults, and that adults need to learn to have with children.

That’s why I love watching Greta and George Monbiot side-by-side, as child and elder, putting out a call for all of us to protect “the magic of trees”.

What some people see as a child, I see as an old soul who has tapped into the very nature of the Universe. She is a very grounded old soul who, despite her Aspergers, is anchored enough in her body to communicate and relate to regular human beings.

In fact, I surmise it is exactly due to her Aspergers that she is able to see more clearly than the majority of humans. Being on the spectrum has definitely allowed her to channel her tremendous energy in a focused manner.

If I were to have one wish for the continued rise of Greta, it would be to have all further dialogue with her in spaces of nature.

Forests are her stadiums. Animals are her cheerleaders. Oceans are her magic carpet. She needs to regenerate her strength from nature, and Nature draws strength from her. Nature is the only protector she needs from negative forces. Earth is the conductor of her light. Let us continue to commune with Greta in nature.

The inner strength she has shown in holding space for all of us is magnificent. By activating herself, her truth, her light, she has enabled other humans around the world to activate each other. More children will start to use platforms in this way and command their own space.

At the end of the video “Nature Now,” She ends with the most important lesson for all humans: that “Everything counts. What you do, counts.” She’s trying to get us to “wake up” to the fact that all humans matter.

Young or old, humble or powerful, we can manifest the world we want.

This article was written by Peggy Liu, an environmental activist in China and chairperson of the Joint US China Collaboration on Clean Energy with Chloe Hudson, an intuitive healer. This piece was originally published on LinkedIn. 

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