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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg looks on as she takes part in the Friday for Future strike on climate emergency, in Turin, on December 13, 2019. - Greta Thunberg, the teenager who became the voice of a generation facing the climate change emergency, was named Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year. Unknown to the world when she launched a solo strike against global warming in mid-2018, the 16-year-old has since inspired millions in a worldwide movement that saw her tipped as a Nobel laureate. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg looks on as she takes part in the Friday for Future strike on climate emergency, in Turin, on December 13, 2019. - Greta Thunberg, the teenager who became the voice of a generation facing the climate change emergency, was named Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year. Unknown to the world when she launched a solo strike against global warming in mid-2018, the 16-year-old has since inspired millions in a worldwide movement that saw her tipped as a Nobel laureate. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)(FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty)

When did it begin, this naming of generations? Do we thank Tom Brokaw who first labeled the honorable working class and dutiful warriors of the World War II era as “The Greatest Generation?” It’s hard to say, but since then we’ve galvanized “Gen X," “Boomers," “Millenials” and the rest, herding contemporaries into a part of their existence that apparently deserves a label. Luckily, there are breakout examples, rogue members of their ranks who whip up a frenzy for the good of humankind, who deliberately choose to rise above and, with their tireless efforts, typically succeed. Driven by passion and duty, they determine their destiny and often ours as well. Compelled by a need larger than their own, they are the types who refuse the yoke of labels and strive to make us all a part of the whole.

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And thank goodness for that. In a time when political positions are fortified by the Wheaties of divisive language, when atonement for misdeeds becomes subterfuge and, as the adage goes, “a lie travels the world while the truth laces up its shoes," there is Greta facing down the Boomers and everyone else with a world-resonating “How dare you?” While she peers up through the cesspool of trash left behind by those who came before her, she calls for action not attention. And, true to her convictions, she is an example of what she dares to say traveling inconveniently, eating consciously ever mindful of the impact of her actions and her words.

Youth and wisdom are seldom swirled into one cocktail. But Greta shows us this possibility, and then she boldly asks us to drink up like thirsty sailors. And, by God, we should. Sometimes from small voices come huge requests. Adjusting our focus to truly see the world beyond our noses is a big ask now made by a young person carrying the yoke of those her age who recognize this need. It may be unfair to brand generations, but it isn’t unfair to brand Greta as the hero that she is.

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Jan Lupnacca, Rising Sun

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