There is an undeniable poetry to watching a video clip where the most powerful politician in the world walks into a room, with a vigilant pair of eyes upon him. The man is Donald Trump and the eyes belong to Greta Thunberg. We know in this poem that the old man represents establishment power run amuck and the teenage girl is the vibrant glint of youth. We know that she represents the voice of the majority of common people of all ages and across all nationalities and that he, represents the wealthy who equate wealth with exploitation.
This dynamic, tension producing duo of Trump and Thunberg are easy to read and to applaud, but this is not where the media should get lost.
If we take Greta Thunberg and give her airtime we need to start giving more of our time to all the activists who are pointing fingers at the petrol emporers and slowly antiquating coal barrons. We need to give more time to other young activists and give them the credit of naming them, not simply noting that little Greta arrived at the Climate Strike march with a dozen or more of them in tow. In fact, it is very much time for the media to realize that if they do not cover the many names and faces of this growing climate consciousness they are actually doing little good to the cause. They may also be harming someone who is at 16 years of age, vulnerable by nature.
This is not a grudge match, dear Media; and the more you make it like one the more you potentially place all the weight of the world on one small person’s shoulders while negating the heavy lifting of the global collective. The move towards climate justice and overall social justice is not something to rest upon one person’s shoulders because no one person can complete this task alone. On the side of Trump and others like him, it is also important to note how numerous the faces enabling inaction are. By failing to really go deep on this climate instability issue, the conversations that must be had are being lost. The clock continues to tick and popular media and our leaders are offering us half-baked ideas with little complexity, nuance or practicality. By focusing so rigidly on personality there is no actual conversation in the coverage; the topics themselves are lost to hysteria.
Perhaps it because we live in monotheistic times, but framing your stories for a perfect savior and a simplified villain is not in the global public interest. This is an old pattern and it must be broken.
It is satisfying to pit one person against the other and it just too easy to avoid sometimes, but the love of celebrity clashes and grudge matches found in wrestling rings is not going to highlight the fact that millions of people are tired of having their needs put to the bottom of the task list of governments worldwide. The climate will not miraculously improve if we place one angry old reality star in a ring with an impassioned young person until the young one emerges the victor. The Earth will not implode if the old star fights dirty and maintains the crown that dictates the parameters of dialogue.
It is important to give credit and critique where it is due, but it also equally important to move the dial so that we no longer live vicariously like fans rooting on our hero/ine while we munch popcorn and soft drinks.
The media that gets lost in this kind of myopic David and Goliath conversation does nothing to actually move the dial on what is a global demand for clean air, drinkable water and for social justice. It is the same media that took weeks to mention the burning Amazon, the same media that says nothing about the dozens and dozens of environmental activists who were bloodied during the Dakota pipeline buildout, nor keeps up with its toxic spills. This type of sensational reporting does nothing more than feed a news cycle susceptible to monotony and easy manipulation.
This is the time to start talking the real, almost boring talking points: regenerative agriculture, refrigeration, global shipping, hybrid approaches to production that address national and globalist perspectives. This is the time to discuss women’s rights, indigenous land rights, structural inequality, circular supply chains, individual and global income inequality— to name some of the most pressing. Other topics to add include: _____________?
This climate rumble is actually a conversation between different types of consciousness and the media must understand this — down to every Twitter user and InstaVideo producer, because yes, we are all the media now. This is not the time to put the weight of the world on anyone’s shoulders, because that puts many other faces who deserve sunlight into the shadows, and it allows the ghouls of oppressive policies to rest comfortably where they are. None of this global corruption happened at the hands of individuals without support nets, and none of the global conversation will improve without uplifting the entire web of lives raising their voices to bring humanity to the correct side of justice and dignity for all.