Opinion: Greta Thunberg Is the New Child Preacher
Child Preachers Left and Right
Child preachers are nothing new; they've been getting noticed for at least a century. They are mostly associated with fundamentalist Christians in the U.S., but they are a worldwide phenomenon. Child preachers are a hot ticket right now in Brazil. In Indonesia, there are shows about Muslim children preaching the word of Allah.
Modern western secular cultures have child preachers as well. The most well-known one right now is Greta Thunberg, and she's preaching climate doomsday warnings with intense religious fervor.
Out of the Mouths of Babes . . .
Why would any adult encourage a child to devote his or her life to preaching any cause? Randall Balmer, a religious historian, says it's a stunt to get attention. Balmer told the BBC News Magazine, "I think the appeal of a child preacher is frankly the novelty of it . . . It's a kind of a carnival side-show." That kind of attention can be very lucrative, too, for any organization or family.
I also think adults feel a smug satisfaction when they hear child preachers. If a child can understand and restate a point so eloquently, why can't anyone else? Those who oppose such simple, pure thoughts from a child's mouth are clearly ignorant, unintelligent or just plain malevolent.
It's a Different Story When You Disagree
When adults disagree with the message being preached, they can immediately understand the problem with child preachers. They realize the child is being indoctrinated with a particular world view, which is often extreme. This is preventing the child from developing into a free thinker. They realize that views rooted in fear can damage children.
When a child preaches something with which an adult disagrees, the adult sees right through it. They realize children are getting positive reinforcement for being good little parrots. They realize these children are being used by adults with an agenda.
Adults will usually agree children can't really comprehend the complexity of serious problems facing the world. That's why they need us to guide them. Children (or the people who program a child) should not be dictating foreign policies and enacting legislation. We all see it easily enough when it's coming from the other side.
"I think the appeal of a child preacher is frankly the novelty of it . . . It's a kind of a carnival side-show."— Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College
My Heart Goes Out to Greta Thunberg
Maybe it's because I spent the better part of my own youth being terrorized by both my religious community and environmental activists. I was sure that by the year 2000 we'd have already seen judgment day or the destruction of the planet. I used to cry myself to sleep as a teen because I really believed I'd never get the chance to grow old.
Maybe it's because Greta is autistic. I have an autistic teen, and I know how easily kids with autism can become fixated on certain things. I realize how easy it is to use this propensity to manipulate them.
Greta's childhood and her dreams are being stolen, but it's not because of greedy adults ignoring climate change. They're being stolen by adults who have convinced her she's facing the end of the world. Her problems are made worse by people giving her a soapbox for her sermons and putting her on display. They're piling the weight of the world on this poor kid's shoulders, and it is a heavy cross for a little girl to bear.
When I watch Greta speak, I don't see an inspirational activist with realistic answers to our problems; I see a child suffering from anxiety, in need of comfort and soothing, being exploited by adults with an agenda.
Fire and Brimstone Preaching
For centuries, prophets of doom used (unfounded) beliefs and misrepresentation of facts as "proof" of their religious arguments. Reality didn't matter; questioning the wisdom of religious authorities was blasphemy. We were told to ignore the naysayers and just listen to the authorities. Most of us now understand how this kept people in line and under control.
As climate changes continue to impact our world, there are those using the phenomenon in the same way religion has been used. Facts are misunderstood or misrepresented and used as a weapon of fear-mongering to get voters to fall in line. If you criticize or even question climate activists, expect to be mocked and labeled a "denier."
The faithful believer paints the questioner as a heretical figure, disavows you, and urges the masses to ignore you, silence you, or to fight against you.
Famous Child Preacher from the 1920s: Uldine Utley
Environmental Alarmism Is the Fundamentalism of the Left
I'm concerned about the environment, but I'm also worried about how environmentalism is becoming an instrument of political extremism. The politicization of climate change is getting in the way of us finding and implementing any meaningful solutions. Fearmongers act with the arrogance of a divine appointee. Children are the biggest targets of this type of fundamentalism.
Trying to scare the bejeezus out of kids is as bad as trying to scare the Jesus into them. Environmental alarmists are actually worse now; parents can keep their kids away from organizations or institutions pushing religion. In modern, secular societies, we have educational institutions, the entertainment industry, social media platforms, and even the mainstream media constantly pouring their agenda-tinted end-of-the-world hysteria into children our children.
Alarmists imply that scary predictions about climate change must be correct if someone says it in the name of science—because "science" is never wrong. We're told that to question the Left's solutions is to hate the environment—as if alarmists could never be wrong. Activists incorrectly perpetuate the notion that humans will never be able to adapt to the changes, many of which now seem inevitable. We've even been given bold doomsday predictions, such as that the world will end in 12 years.
These are the kinds of messages our kids are getting. This kind of fear-inducing indoctrination is counter-productive at best and child abuse at worst. When people think a problem is too overwhelming, they're more likely to become indifferent to it or resign themselves to the inevitable. Alternatively, they may fall into despair; effects of climate change anxiety are already taking a toll on our youth.
What's Your Opinion?
Do you think Greta Thunberg is being exploited?
We Shouldn't Exploit Children or Fears for Any Reason
I find it ironic that Time featured an article on eco-anxiety in November of 2019, only to go ahead and announce in December that they're making one of the biggest victims of it their person of the year in 2020. It's bad enough our kids are exposed to the level of environmental extremism and fear-mongering at the rate that they are; it's even worse when we scare them into giving up their childhoods to start preaching.
To quote Greta Thunberg, "How dare you?"
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 M S Beltran