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Grateful to Greta

To the editor:

I recently watched Trevor Noah interview Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, an impressive young woman who is leading people around the world to take climate change seriously enough to make changes in our lives and pressure our elected leaders to take the issue seriously. She said she thinks that people simply don’t understand what we have done to the planet and that, once we do, we will get involved and behave responsibly.

When addressing the United Nations, Greta said that she prefers to think that our mistakes result from ignorance. The alternative, that we are deliberately destroying our home, would mean that people are evil, and that’s a premise she is unwilling to accept.

I think she is right. Our consumptive, convenient lifestyle has lulled us into complacency. Just today, as I was cleaning out a storage shed, it felt terrible to consign many unrecyclable items to the trash. It wasn’t too long ago that I would have felt good about eliminating the clutter in my territory. Now that I realize that we are all connected, not only to each other but to the planet, the concept of “my territory” has changed dramatically.

Recycling is a good step in the process of living responsibly, but buying less in the first place is an even better option. My parents lived through the Depression, and they modeled frugality. My generation succumbed to material temptations. As I struggle to develop new habits, it feels good to be inspired by a 16-year-old, and I am grateful for her charity and hopefulness.

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