I want to say right at the top, I have nothing against Greta Thunberg. I agree with her message. I’ve never met her, but I’m sure she’s a wonderful kid. I’m not talking about her because of her. She just happens to be the latest iteration of something that has bothered me for a long time. Why doesn’t anyone seem to care when children are exploited by adults if those people agree with the message?
I’ve been thinking about this ever since I read Hannah Arendt’s “Reflections on Little Rock.” It’s a controversial essay, to say the least, and I don’t agree with everything she said in it. But I do agree with one point she makes. She says that it is wrong to force children to be the ones to make changes that adults are responsible for. Essentially, she says the adults in 1957 were exploiting the Little Rock Nine. It was unfair to put those kids in that type of situation. I say that as someone who supports school integration and abhors racism. The events in Little Rock might have been good for society, but it was a horrible thing to do to the actual children caught in the situation.
Everything around Greta Thunberg reeks to me of exploitation. A kid simply can’t do the things that she is doing without powerful adults pulling the strings. That basically means that some adults decided that Ms. Thunberg is better in terms of marketing than they are and they’re using her to push their agenda.
It doesn’t matter if Ms. Thunberg actually believes in the cause and wants to help. There are child labor laws for a reason. We can’t just let kids do whatever they want to do. That’s one of the most important parts of being a parent. My daughter would love nothing more than to be a famous YouTuber, but I don’t let her post videos. It’s not good for a kid to be famous or to have the pressure of delivering content or the stress of being attacked by trolls. Ms. Thunberg has to deal with all those things and more. She’s definitely famous, she has the pressure of speaking at the UN, and she’s been attacked by the president among many others. None of those things are her fault, but they are the fault of whatever adults are supposed to be caring for her and all the people piling on the exploitation bandwagon.
It’s sad that almost no one sees the exploitation inherent in these situations. It doesn’t matter that I agree with the cause and want it to be successful. I feel terrible seeing a kid purposely exposed to the worst humanity has to offer. Exploiting children is bad no matter what. We need to stop doing it. There are a lot of problems in the world, climate change being a huge one. But these problems are our responsibility as adults. Stop making children pick up our responsibilities.