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Earlier this week the UN celebrated World Children’s Day, a day that recognises the unique rights that children have been granted by all but one country in the world.  In our earlier blog post  we highlighted some of the reasons UNICEF’s Executive Director (Henrietta Fore) was both worried and hopeful for today’s children.

Fore’s letter also highlighted the fact that “childhood has changed, and we need to change our approaches along with it”. This is a profoundly important statement and one that deserves greater consideration most especially in light of the hostility in the media towards Greta Thunberg and the various media efforts to diminish and disregard the activism of children as “a cult of youth”.

I think it is fair and proper to draw the analogy.  Greta Thunberg is to the global climate crisis what Nelson Mandela was to Apartheid South Africa (and Malala Yousafza was to girl’s empowerment).

A bold, courageous, principled, leader by example, she has taken up the fight on behalf of millions of young people who are looking to have their voice heard, who are looking to have a sustainable, viable future, who are looking to change the way we live in the world.

Though heartfelt emotion and passion has been evident in her every action, she has not used emotion to argue in tantrums or tirades. She has proactively committed to self-learning, sought out the facts, gained the knowledge to speak with truth and evidence, and developed the grit, fearlessness and resilience to speak that truth to power. She has significantly raised the bar for young people to think, to feel, to do.

And she has put “the system” on notice, saying, in the words of Daniel, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting”.

Head, Heart, Hand.

Inform. Inspire. Ignite. 

I have wondered whether Greta’s parents had any advance warning of her power and potential? Whether her name is an intended misspell of Great? Whether coincidence or not, it is apt.  She is great! Inspirational. An embodiment of the kind of active citizen leader, personally and publicly, that the world needs.  A role model, for me definitely.

I have found it hard to understand what fuels the hostility of the “Greta haters”. Is it ignorance or fear? And does it actually matter?

The psychologist George Kelly argued that hostility occurs when, in our “frantic efforts to make the data fit the hypothesis”, we resort to “vigorous” methods.  These are, he says, attempts “to extort confirmation of personal hypotheses that have already proved themselves to be invalid”.

In other words, Greta haters might be hostile because the science clearly shows a truth that they just don’t want to admit.

It may not matter therefore whether it is ignorance or fear that is driving hostility. In both cases the solution is the same.  We need to increase the potential to access the tools and strategies to both objectively and subjectively change, and thus realise that we can and want to change.  We need to help develop the multiple literacies, the emotional and sustainability intelligence, and the mastery of action related strategies for change.  We have to drastically change the way we are learning: the what, the why and the how of the content that schools and educational institutions are teaching and the deep, real-life experience of natural systems we can provide to experience the principles of sustainability, circularity, complexity and resilience in practice.

To all the Greta haters out there …. There is a way out of your hostility, there is a Route to Resilience that you can follow.

To Greta, we salute you” #giveafuture #fridaysforthe future


Routes to ResilienceTM programmes have been created by the Impact Trust in a unique collaboration with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership in South Africa (CISL-SA).

Designed to expose young adults and educators to a deep experiential understanding of the principles of sustainability, and to promote mastery of leadership in practice, our programmes speak to the growing need for youth to develop competence in their ability to think, live and lead sustainably, so promoting social and cultural change towards a more resilient future.

A central part of the programmes emphasis on leadership development is the promotion of self-awareness, the individual connection with an internal locus of control, a sense of resilience and grit and the ability to respond appropriately and effectively at an individual, community and societal level.

One Comment

  • Alexandra Matthews says:

    Greta is truly great – and there are so many young people out there who could change the world as she is doing – we just need to unleash their potential! Love what Routes to Resilience is doing.

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