This is an existential emergency: stop pretending you're solving it
Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN was delivered with tears of rage from the 16-year old crusader, and tears of rage from grown men the world over. She was telling everyone older than 16 that they have failed. She was telling those who say it can’t be done to get out of the way of those who are doing it. She was talking about saving the planet and thus our species.
Richard Flanagan in The Guardian compared her speech to Abraham Lincoln's at Gettysburg, each being a declaration of enormous gravity delivered in extremely few words: his bid to win the Civil War was 273 words, her bid to deliver us from the patriarchy was just shy of 500.
She addressed her words to those “who can only talk about money and fairytales of eternal economic growth” very deliberately including the world’s leaders of business, industry, and government.
She threw the words of President,John F Kennedy in the faces of her American hosts, quoting his speech on why they funded the search for penicillin, why they aimed to land a man on the moon, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, as JFK put it.
She invoked a third American secular saint, Martin Luther King, whose dream was for racial equality, while hers is that “that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together ... as you would in an emergency – and … safeguard the conditions for a dignified life for everybody on earth.”
Above all else, the burden of Greta’s speech, and its shocking power, came from her refrain: “How dare you.”
It was how she framed the “you” and the “we”.
“You have stolen the dreams and childhoods of future and present generations”, she told the men who have for so long considered themselves rulers of the planet. “How dare you.”