Are young people being exploited in order to change public opinion?
I think so.
Greta Thunberg is a just-turned seventeen-year-old climate activist. How did this happen? She began by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean twice in order to attend climate change summits. She has addressed the U. N. and other important international bodies. She’s smart and passionate and obviously believes the earth is in dire trouble.
I’m reminded of Malala, the Afghan girl who also addressed the United Nations at sixteen years of age—after having being shot by the Taliban and mostly recovering from her wounds. She rose to prominence as an advocate for girls’ education at a very young age. (See The Malala Effect, written by yours truly. You can access it, here.)
They’ve been hailed as heroes—which I would agree they are. Not many young girls have crossed the Atlantic solo or promoted the cause of female education while in an Afghani grade school.
But, I’m wondering if adults aren’t setting these young women up as experts and exploiting their innocence in order to accomplish their own goals. Who is speaking through these mini-activists? I’m not sure.
There are quite a few more. In fact, in the court case Juliana versus the United States, a group of 21 children, some as young as eleven, has won the right to go to trial, suing the U. S. government over climate change.
Think about it: what kind of maturity and discernment did you have at sixteen? (I shudder to think about my own “incredible wisdom.”) Even brilliant people have very little maturity at that age.
Yet, these young ladies and children are the spokespersons of the world. For climate issues, why not consult a scientist with a PhD? Do we not want to listen to those who seriously know what they’re talking about?
Or do we prefer the fresh innocence and passion of youth?
Granted, young, smart women offer the wow factor—especially accomplished young ladies like Malala and Greta.
But, maybe we should be getting advice from older, wiser sources. Maybe the U.N. chould give the platform to scholars and scientists, people who have proved themselves over many years.
I don’t know.
It just seems a little strange to put teenagers on the world stage.
I’m not surprised someone helped Malala withdraw from the spotlight and concentrate on her university studies.
I sincerely hope someone helps Greta do the same.
The Bible speaks of young people being wise and their parents therefore being happy. It also tells us the source of wisdom: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). I pray for both Malala and Greta to find that holy wisdom in their hearts. I would love for them to know the Lord. I believe, as a result, Greta would become less strident and angry. A godly woman’s speech is filled with kindness.
It’s interesting that when God gives the qualifications for pastors and deacons—the leaders in the church—He wants them to be mature. I don’t think this necessarily applies to children speaking out about a cause, but it’s interesting that leadership comes from mature, practiced-and-proved men. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:4-7).
To whom do you listen: a seasoned veteran or a young teen?
Do you believe these children and teens have been exploited? If so, does this bother you?
Your thoughts? Please feel free to share.