Recently I watched a video of a panel in Georgia where a member of the audience asked panelist Mary Evelyn Tucker, “Where are today’s leaders”? He referenced some names of famous adults; Tucker reminded him that Martin Luther King was 26 years of age when he started his crusade for freedom. The moderator noted that emerging leaders are even younger and challenged the audience to watch Greta Thunberg tell us how we are doing so far.
You can see a recent talk here.
Thunberg says that she recognized the crisis on her own and her parents listened to her concerns. Her single action of sitting outside the Swedish Parliament She has inspired thousands of other teens to join her and has spoken at those who enjoy the title of leaders at the UN and Davos.
At the recent WaterDocs festival I became aware of another young leader, Autumn Peltier, who sat at the feet of her great aunt. Josephine Mandamin, known as Grandmother Josephine. She was an Anishinaabe grandmother, elder and water activist involved with the Mother Earth Water Walkers. They have riased awareness of the importance of water and our need to protect it.
Her great niece, Autumn Peltier carries the torch after re great aunt’s recent death and has already spoken to the United Nations on World Water Day in 2018 and earlier berated Canada’s Prime Minister for his inattention to the importance of Water. She connected with Swedish activism by attending the Children’s summit where she shared her story of the sacredness of water from an indigenous perspective. You can see her UN address here.
Both of these young women in their mid teens have a long perspective - already imagining themselves as grandmothers and having to tell their grandchildren how negligent we were in facing up to reality. They already show the pain of their wisdom in their serious young faces when they speak. At very least it has inspired me to share the story of the Water Walkers with the younger children that I know. As information speeds up, they know too much already and will hold us accountable.