AN OPEN LETTER TO GRETA THUNBERG
You’ve obviously gotten under the very thin skin of some people who aren’t interested in
saving the planet. Someone on Fox News called you “mentally ill,” Laura Ingraham said you
reminded her of Stephen King’s “children of the corn,” and the President of the United States
put out a sarcastic, dismissive tweet about you. While your response – adopting his words as
your Twitter bio – was brilliant, it isn’t easy being mocked in such a public way.
I was 14 when my father was elected Governor of California. I wasn’t happy about the
election, and I trudged through the Inaugural activities with a rather sullen look on my face,
prompting a newspaper reporter to surmise that I might be “mentally retarded.” I tried to
cauterize the wound with anger, but it still hurt. A grown man, who happens to hold the highest
office in the land, publicly dissing a sixteen-year-old girl is beneath contempt, and I hope you
know that millions of us are disgusted.
It takes enormous courage to try and change the world. People twice your age, who are
supposed to have it all together, could never be brave enough to do what you have done. You
sailed across the Atlantic in a solar powered racing boat; Donald Trump can’t even walk a
quarter mile. He has to take a golf cart. You have directed your passion, your empathy, your
commitment to try and save the species that are dying on this earth, to try and help the people
who are displaced and suffering because of climate change and the catastrophic weather
events that it’s caused. Donald Trump can’t get past his own image in the mirror, his own selfish
interests, and as we have all seen, he has no empathy. He has a big microphone, but nothing
substantial to say. You are standing up in front of world leaders and demanding that they be
responsible to future generations. At sixteen, you are stronger and wiser than the 72-year-old
man who insulted his way into the presidency.
People have said to me over the years, “Don’t listen to the trolls who come after you.”
But it’s not possible to inoculate yourself from the haters. What’s vital is to remember how
small they are. Selfishness and mockery never changed the world. Insults, pettiness, and
narcissism aren’t lauded and revered when history is written. Donald Trump has claimed the
word ‘great’ as if he actually knows what it means. But Mother Theresa said, “There is no such
thing as a great deed, only small deeds done with great love.” He will never understand that.