From the Children’s Ministry (02.01.20)

I was thrilled when Greta Thunberg was named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”. God has given us a wonderful planet to live on and I believe that it is our responsibility to take care of it not only for our time here, but for future generations. For Greta to challenge world leaders to be more mindful of how decisions made now will impact her generation and those who follow is courageous, especially from a sixteen-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

As a kindergarten teacher who worked with undiagnosed children across the special needs spectrum, I celebrate the children who rise above the obstacles they must deal with and exceed all expectations. Speaking up for what one believes in is difficult for anyone, much less one so young with added challenges to overcome. Greta is an inspiration to me not only for her message, but for her courage.

I cannot understand why anyone would feel threatened by a young person standing up for what they believe, yet, there are a host of people, including at least two world leaders, who chose to mock Greta rather than congratulating her for her accomplishment. Do you really have to agree with what someone is saying to acknowledge their accomplishments? How immature does one have to be in order to ridicule a sixteen-year-old girl? Isn’t there enough of that going on in school hallways all over the world? Do adults who hold the highest offices in their countries have to join in? In this “Twilight Zone” world we live in, this isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is that people are actually defending these leaders, saying Greta “deserves” their ridicule because she had the courage to speak her convictions.
Unfortunately, Greta is not the first, nor will she be the last brave youth who will face ridicule or hatred for daring to speak out. Just ask David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, who spoke out after surviving the horror of a high school shooting.

With all the news stories coming out after Time Magazine’s announcement, I couldn’t help but think about our Parkway children and youth. We have young people with great dreams for the future. We have children and youth with lofty goals and all the gifts they need to achieve those goals. When I talk to them, I feel like our country has a chance to be better in the future than it is now. These young people are smarter than I was at their age. They are more informed of the issues we face as a country and as a planet than a lot of adults. I believe in them and I trust the sincerity of their views.

We do not need to tell our young people to be quiet. We need to encourage them to speak out. We need to celebrate their willingness to be ridiculed to speak their mind. They are the ones who will lead this world one day. Instead of mocking them, we need to talk with them. We need to share our views and experience with them so that they can understand why we are where we are today. We need to teach them that it is okay to have different views and opinions. We are not right about everything and neither are they. This world will be a better place if we all learn to compromise. This world has a brighter future if we stop “throwing stones” and learn to shake hands.
Maybe our Greta, David, Emma, and our Parkway children and youth are reflective of the leadership we have to look forward to in the future. I, for one, am rooting for them!