Yet I'm not Don Alonso Quijano, or Don Quijote. I am no Knight. I have no ideals. Or maybe, but not of the greatness of his. In Cantabria, I would refer to them as idealucos, my dear, small, manageable ideals. I'm just a grown-up child with some surviving dreams.
Correct me from wrong: Don Quijote, a fictitious character, was originally conceived as someone to be laughed at, to create a parody of those chivalry books that were so popular in Europe at the time. In fact, the publishing of his adventures was so successful that those books stopped being published (although people kept reading them). So there you go, you have a fool galloping against windmills thinking he's fighting giants and crashing against them, and he's beaten up by those he rescues and by those he rescued the first ones from, and the readers laugh at him, because he's so pathetic and that is the point of the whole book, right?
If you agree, you've missed a point. Maybe more than one.
Don Quijote may be a fool, but with his figure, Cervantes transmitted an idea that is too big for most of us: that a man without ideals is a dead man. When don Quijote is defeated by the Knight of the White Moon (a friend of his in disguise), he is requested to abandon his ideals and go back home. Don Quijote accepts, returns home, gets sick and dies.
If we are lit candles and we die when the candle burns out, Don Quijote was a self-blowing candle. He didn't die when his body stopped working: he had been dead already since the moment he gave up his ideals.
He lived, he died. Some people mock him, some respect him, some are inspired by him.
I am no Quijote. Neither is Greta. True, she has ideals. True, she inspires others. True, she has her point of madness. But, in the eyes of many, there are too many things that are "wrong" with her: she is young, she is a female, she is telling us about her ideals. Many can't forgive that combination of factors.
Today I came across an article criticising her project as a whole has a huge carbon footprint and therefore the impact on nature is too big and it's all aiming at getting publicity for God knows what aims. There are too many statements in that sentence and it becomes a fallacy the moment we say there is no point in her doing that trip. She's raising awareness. She's creating debate. She's pointing at many insufficiencies in us and our society. She's inspiring people her age.
So let's make a list of the reasons to criticise her:
- She has ideals: most of us don't and it hurts to be dead and see that somebody is alive, that's why we want to eat her brain.
- She is young: we missed our opportunity of making something for the world while we had the time and energy and we can't stand anybody reminding us about that fact with deeds.
- She's different: yes, we are all unique and blablabla but we can't accept that someone is more unique than we are.
- She's announcing it: we may all be (or too many of us) too afraid to tell the world about our dreams.
- She's supported: we don't get enough support for those dreams we never talk about, or we think we would not get it, and we don't wish anybody to have that support, period.
- She inspires others: oh, she just wants to be famous and I will never be, that's soooo painful.
- She's doing something: her actions remind everybody that we are not doing enough.
- She's a female: worst and self-explanatory reason for many, she should be learning to cook, shouldn't she? Of course not.
"She is being manipulated by those making a lot of money with the fight against climate change, and she probably is nothing more than a puppet". When someone criticises those making money from attempting to save the world (or from convincing others to do something to save it) instead of criticising all those making money from directly destroying the world, the opening statement of this paragraph becomes a shitty argument. Even if anyone had proof that she is being manipulated: so are most of us, e.g. when we buy things we don't need and we travel to places we are not really that interested in etc. With proof or without, I bet she has done more for the welfare of the world at her young age than most critics doubling or quadrupling her age in their entire lives.
I was furious enough. Then somebody told me that she's just a child, that she would grow out of that crazy attitude.
I'm dying. My world is dying. My candle is getting shorter. And I am allowing the zombies to blow on the flame of my ideals.
But, you know what—indirectly, Greta has given me a reason to live. To live again. To refresh my flame, even if it just were to annoy some.
Now and then I get this recurrent thought of "Why should I care, I'm old enough, there will be world until I die". In fact, I pronounced that very sentence today, while having a discussion on Greta's trip. Why should I have ideals. Why should I have something to fight for, a dream, an "ilusión" (something magical to look forward to). Why shouldn't I become a comfortable grey zombie like the vast majority. Why should I be different. Why should I try inspiring others, expose myself to criticism and mocking, why should I try when nobody can fight Money or those lustful for it (Quevedo said "A powerful knight is Sir Money").
I may not have a direct answer. I know caring is the right thing to do. Greta may not be Don Quijote and she may have huge flaws. She also has an entire life ahead (hopefully) to perfection herself.
Young people need good role models. They need heroes too, and I may be too old and imperfect to become one, but I can at least support those that are young enough to be young people's heroes.
And you know what... being my age and keeping alive my ideals, I will be the proof that comments like "she will grow out of it" are absolutely crappy. She may not grow out of anything. And even if she did, by then she will have inspired others (hopefully) among whom some will keep their ideals. An that is the point: everything is about trying, about not giving up, about what we can learn; about believing, about having hope and faith.
I'm still doing something. I'm still fighting, 40 years after hearing for the first time "you're a child, you will grow out of those ideas and you'll understand". I have that point of insanity. I'm different. I'm unique. I'm not a zombie and I'm not dead yet. I will defend, maybe also team up with, those I feel related to either me or my ideal self. You can choose to live with it or to die out of it. But let Greta alone unless, or until, you have something better to offer yourself.