Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Greta Thunberg, the outspoken Swedish climate change activist, upsets more than climate change deniers. She alarms those who believe sixteen-year-old girls should act like Liesl von Trapp in The Sound of Music as she coyly sings to her boyfriend, “I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do…” Those who heard Thunberg speak to the United Nations couldn’t doubt she doesn’t need someone older telling her what to do. Age doesn’t determine common sense. In fact, spending more time being indoctrinated by traditional viewpoints may not be an advantage for creative positive change. The youth movement for gun regulation presents another example. As in the protests against the Vietnam War, young people dare to challenge old paradigms when they see their future at risk. The disregarded elderly may dare mightily, as well, in order to act on behalf of the future…and because they can.
A recent Facebook post cited four sixteen-year-old female mold-breaking leaders who could be called anything but naïve—beginning with Joan of Arc and Malala Yousafzai—each dedicated to a real-life cause. They represent millions of silenced young women told to be more ladylike and know your place. Which brings us to the second part of the issue many have with Greta Thunberg—her being female. Western society has fed male fantasies that women are most attractive when they’re beautiful and a little stupid. Sex goddesses such as Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield worked to appear clueless, hanging on the arms of powerful men. The incredible success of beauty products reminds us that most women reluctantly accept their obligation to appear pleasing as a prime directive. A female presidential candidate would never allow herself to look as disheveled as Bernie Sanders or as casual as Andrew Yang. Whether women will be permitted to be outspoken remains to be seen. No one expects Melania Trump to actually campaign against bullying, for example. As a former model and dutiful wife to a narcissist, she isn’t supposed to exhibit independent thought. I was once told that women who express strong opinions seem to be lesbians, as though that were the only condition under which females are allowed to be openly intelligent.
Recently, I had an opportunity to interview several accomplished women—accomplished in the sense that they’re happy with the course of their lives. What they have in common is unapologetic curiosity and a willingness to stretch their wings. They aren’t afraid to venture into the greater world to expand their definitions of who they are, and they have done so numerous times. They gain a global perspective that Greta Thunberg might appreciate. Artist Sheigla Hartman told me, “I’ve seen half the world and would like to see the other half.” Once you’ve seen the world, what you do with your larger view is up to you. Actress/puppeteer Liz Dapo advises idealistic young people, “Reset yourself. …It’s okay to go beyond what’s comfortable for your family.” Mature people can do the same if they dare. What would you change if you could?