Greta Thunberg is Time’s Person of the Year for 2019.
In an era where integrity and truth, compassion and creativity have been challenged and eroded Greta Thunberg has simply acted on her convictions. It started with a strike from her school in Sweden and ending this year seeing millions step out of “business as usual” if only for an hour or a day. There are many youth and adults who have been leading in the climate struggle through litigation, energy efficiency, innovation, protest, and policy influence.
Greta stands on the shoulders of powerful voices and the work of many, but it is her voice that has most recently captured the prophetic imagination of people in over 100 countries. She continues to point people away from herself when she can, not wanting to be seen as a hero or savior. She reminds us to listen to the scientists, to look at the future with honesty and act boldly. Like all of us, she is not perfect. She is human. She will probably make mistakes and will be inconsistent. And yet the science of climate continues to unfold with terrible projections, the impacts of climate shifting are currently squeezing farmers, communities near the seas and almost all of humanity, particularly those most vulnerable.
“Thunberg is not a leader of any political party or advocacy group. She is neither the first to sound the alarm about the climate crisis nor the most qualified to fix it. She is not a scientist or a politician. She has no access to traditional levers of influence: she’s not a billionaire or a princess, a pop star or even an adult. She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation. By clarifying an abstract danger with piercing outrage, Thunberg became the most compelling voice on the most important issue facing the planet.”
Greta is not perfect but she is not alone. She has helped awaken millions to this work. Here in Western North Carolina people of faith are engaged in climate change mitigation, adaptation and compassion building. They may not all be protesting, committing acts of civil disobedience or fully aware of climate policy but more and more are waking up and organizing to take climate change action as an expression of their faith lives.