Saturday, October 5, 2019

Greta the Great

Greta in 2018, her first climate strike,
alone in front of the Swedish Parliament building

Every time I type her name, I type Great. Freudian dyslexia. I’m not too ahead of my time writing about Greta, and I usually don’t write about people everyone else is writing about. But, this time, I got into a bit of trouble on Facebook over her. It was her meltdown at the United Nations. I said something to the effect of how sad it was to see her like that and the comments - from friends of mine who know me and should know better - took the opportunity to rage against my lack of political correctness, as if I were suddenly Fox News attacking Greta’s Aspergers. Comments like “You don’t have to be normal to be wonderful!” As if anyone had ever accused me of being normal.

I had to look up Aspergers. I won’t bore you with the details you probably already know about Greta having read about her so much. I couldn’t care less what conditions Greta the Great has or doesn’t have. I read that people have commented on her clothes, her diet, her hair, her size, what the fuck ever!

I also said something about how they - operative word, “they,” my definition of “they” is anyone who has more power over your life than you do - said once, “We wait for you to get tired.” I got attacked for being tired. “We can’t get tired in our work!” came the comment back to me. Sorry, you’re actually one of the people who burned me out.

I saw something that day, the day Greta raged. I saw a person who had tried so hard. I remember her first day at the UN, when she was calm and quiet and told the world leaders, “My comments to you today will be this report on climate change from the world’s leading scientists.” She, a rational, thinking, caring, intelligent person had thought, “This is all I need to say. After they read this report, there will be no dispute. No more questions, only action.”

Look at the science. Look at the polar ice melting. Look at the animals going extinct. Look at the storms, and the floods, the fires and the drought. Now, now, now, act, act, act!


I’ve seen it before. Nothing, a terrible reaction to the truth.

She’d just come off a dramatic journey across the Atlantic on a sailboat powered only by sustainable energy. She disembarked to march and speak. Millions of people - and remember she started with only one, herself - my favorite picture of Greta, sitting alone outside of the Swedish Parliament building with one sign - now followed and supported by millions marching and shouting in the streets of national capitals around the planet. 

Greta Arrives in NYC, August, 2019

Millions of Marchers in cities around the globe
Climate Strike, September 20, 2019

Now, September 23, 2019 was the time to speak to the leaders and, it seemed, though probably it wasn’t the first time she realized, she saw quite clearly that she may as well be alone. Because, she realized that the throngs of marchers are the choir. The throngs of marchers are not polluting the planet. The men and women in front of her representing nations and corporations ARE POLLUTING THE PLANET and they are the ones who were not listening to her or to science or to anyone.

Greta the Great Lioness 
hissing and snarling
at the United Nations, September 23, 12019

Two articles recently appeared about the despair Greta must feel. These articles urged me to write today, as the authors were the only ones who seemed to see what I saw. From Smithsonian, reposted from 2013, “The Money Behind the Climate Deniers” by Colin Schultz, and from Truth Dig, September 23, 2019, “Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elites" by Chris Hedges. These articles are about the powers that be, the powers out there, not only denying climate change, but contributing to it daily.

The Guardian reported, “In an impassioned speech (at the UN, September 23, 2019), Thunberg told those who hold office, ‘you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?’ Greta snarled. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.’"

Scolding the world leaders, she cried out, "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean.”

There were more strikes for Climate Change today, Friday, October 4, 2019. Greta herself will join activists in Iowa City and she is calling for more strikes, “Fridays for Future.” Next, she will move on to march in Chile.

I wondered why I was writing at all about climate change, burned out as I am. I’ve never been politically correct and I hate following a crowd. Possibly because I like the way Great (oops, I did it again)*, Greta had started - with diet. I’m sympathetic to this approach because I’ve been macrobiotic since 1974, 45 years. I’ve been climate friendly my whole life, as I was brought up in a traditional Italian household. Yes, we grew our own food and bought only from the North End and East Boston traditional markets. Greta changed her parents first, getting them to stop eating meat and to adopt better dietary and lifestyle habits. Here is where climate change will happen, and happen naturally. Those who eat well, live well. They do not take, they give.

I have no idea how to stop the greed of our current leaders: presidents, kings, prime ministers who are selling their land, their water and their people for a few pieces of silver. I only know how to go around and under them. Good food is getting harder to find. Real food is no longer as nutritious as it once was because of soil depletion and water and air pollution. Fake food, which is often the only food available to people, inundates our supermarkets and makes us sick. We may find ourselves sick and dying before we actually drown or burn up.

What do we do? We keep on. Our dollars speak loudly at the cash register. The millions who are marching represent voters and customers as well as future leaders. Plenty of people are out there visibly fighting with us, and invisibly striving and working.

Thank you, Greta, for all that you do. Greta the Great is no longer alone.

*These typos are absolutely genuine.

©Patricia Goodwin, 2019

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.

Within this blog, Patricia writes often about non-fiction subjects that inspire or disturb her, hopefully informing and inspiring people to be happy, healthy and free.