Dear Greta, We Are Listening

Dear Greta,

You have been criticized for speaking the truth that nobody wants to hear. You have been disregarded and disrespected. You have been ridiculed for being different. As a mother of a child with differences, and as a person sharing this world with you, I am outraged. 

Instead of applauding your passion and wisdom, the adults you turned to for help, mocked you. The President of the United States callously belittled you on Twitter. Shame on him and people like him with their narrow-minded spite. 

Please ignore the ignorant haters. Don’t give up. I hear you. My family hears you. We are listening to your every fact, warning, and call to action. 

People point out your differences as though they are a flaw or cause for shame. You view “Asperger’s not as a disease, but as a gift.” Your gift helps you see the world in a unique way—not through rose-coloured glasses, but with crystal clear clarity. 

Your neurotypical diversity and empathy have set you on this course as a crusader.

Though your classmates were concerned when they watched films about pollution and starving polar bears, after class they were able to put those images aside. You couldn’t do that. You don’t work that way. 

Your diagnosis includes selective mutism—you speak only when you think it’s necessary. Thank you for speaking now. It’s necessary. We need people like you who aren’t like everyone else. You are the change makers, the helpers, the forward thinkers, the saviours. 

You regard your Asperger’s and OCD diagnoses as your superpowers. 

Your superpowers make you different, and this enables you to think differently. People like you who think outside the box are the ones who can turn this around.

Greta, my daughter is different too. Her superpower is a kindness. She doesn’t know what climate means or what fossil fuels are. Her cognitive delays shield her from understanding the danger we are in. She only sees the good in the world. I envy that because as you know, the world is broken. 

In 2017 my son and I attended a talk by Canadian environmentalist, David Suzuki.

He spoke of climate-related disasters like floods, hurricanes, and droughts. He quoted scientist’s predictions about time running out for life on earth. We were shocked. I tried to speak about it with anyone who would listen. They didn’t want to hear it. I wrote about it. Not one comment. 

I am sorry you are fighting to rally a population who prefers to deflect their fear onto you instead of taking appropriate action. I understand your frustration which is compounded by the knowledge that solutions do exist if only people would listen and act. 

I am distraught. I don’t know what to do. But like you said, “Sometimes NOT doing things—like just sitting down outside the parliament, speaks much louder than doing things. Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting.”

So tomorrow my son, sixteen years old like you, and my daughter, neurodiverse, like you, will be attending our first #climatestrike. We will do what we can. Starting with a whisper. 

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