MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Greta Thunberg is one of my heroes. She is now 17 years old and known around the world as an outspoken advocate for Planet Earth. She knows that apathy regarding climate change is only going to accelerate the damage that has already been done to the environment. She speaks truth to power and has travelled the world to speak to rulers, presidents, global companies, the Pope, and to millions of like-minded people who have been inspired to join her cause. When she was just 15, she skipped school and sat in front of the Swedish Parliament building holding a sign that said “School Strike for the Climate”. That simple act ignited student protests around the world and began her weekly strikes that she calls “Fridays for Future” that are still going on every week.
Thunberg is such a focused and informed speaker, it is easy to assume that she is simply a child genius, an “old soul” in a teenager’s body. It’s not that simple.
Thunberg describes herself as being on the spectrum with Asperger’s syndrome. This has enabled her to stay focused on the environment and develop an encyclopedic knowledge of everything climate-related. In this film she tosses off comments about the Albedo Effect and the Keeling Curve (neither is explained in the movie, but I’m impressed). She is well aware that it is easy to say that you care about the environment and then fumble the follow-through. She knows that there will be critics as well as advocates for her position, but she could care less about what people think about her.
Greta has another condition known as selective mutism, which often makes it difficult for her to talk with persons one-to-one. She doesn’t much care for selfies and can become withdrawn for long periods of time. She can forget to eat. When she was asked to speak at the U.S. Climate Summit in New York, she embarked on a harrowing two-week sailboat trip across the Atlantic Ocean (shown in the film) rather than increase her carbon footprint by jet transport.
Her father Svante is at her side, and the love from her family is a constant foundation from which she can also push off and thrive. He is able to draw her out and let us see her giggling, laughing and dancing.
I Am Greta is incredibly intimate and personal, but somewhat rambling, like high-quality home videos. Because there is no strong editorial hand at work, at times the film seems rather mundane and repetitive. But I haven’t stopped thinking about it for days. Greta Thunberg shows us that a life committed to something that really matters is a life worth living. This sounds mighty familiar to Wesleyan Christians; perhaps it’s time to put our faith to work, too.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: No one is too small to make a difference; Greta Thunberg shows us how it’s done.
Two pitchforks: Brief swearing; insensitive people; brief scenes of suffering for a cause.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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