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Greta Thunberg sails to America. She breezes into town with a boiling luster of avid belief full of conviction. There are those who mock this sixteen-year old who dares to stand and speak her mind, strongly, frankly, without regard for the pitfalls honesty can sometimes bring when speaking to those thought to be superior. They’re not.

Because I’ve worked in library services for almost twenty-five years now, this fired-up youth, Greta, conjures up memories of one of the bazillion books I’ve read—or at least in part scanned—over the years.

This book:

This book is a Juvenile Bio of a young man who really lived, Alexander Selkirk, though his true name was Alexander Selcraig. He was a Scott and it’s thought the name deviance as recorded was perhaps due to poor spelling or a rocking boat during the time of transcript.  His relative is alive today and reports that his research suggests, “Selkirk (as a young lad) was a bit of a bastard, more respected in his absence than in his presence.”*

My take is that Selcraig was a bit wild as a child, always in trouble, gifted in math and stubborn as the morning when it came to rising up to defend his right of opinion. Selcraig’s troubled youth may be what led him to become a sailor—it was a means to get away from his past. For whatever the reason, this youth so filled with fury was the real Robinson Crusoe; he lived marooned on an island for four and one-half years, and mostly by his own doing. He chose his path fueled by his own determination, you can call it a hot headed mindset if you like, and thereby set his story forever in history.

This brief description of Selcraig, or Selkirk, the one whose life is now known as Robinson Crusoe, brings to mind Greta Thunberg. Think about it. Though Greta apparently didn’t go around beating up people with sticks as Selcriag may have, she is, by her own admission, somewhat estranged from people by the very nature of her Asperger’s condition.

When Greta headed out with this sign, she was alone with only the company of her determination.  Greta knows she is right when it comes to the issues surrounding climate change and she’s willing to leave whatever she left behind to sail half way across the world to prove her point. Of course, Alexander Selkirk may have left his home to get away from his past while Greta has left home to make her future but, in the very least, the two seem to exhibit the same type of bold, unflinching spirit.

You see, Selkirk, in the year of 1704 approached his captain, Captian Stradling, while they moored by an uninhabited island and insisted the ship wasn’t worthy to sail. He demanded that the crew go ashore and make needed repairs before setting sail. (It’s reported that Selkirk was 28** and a worthy sailor and first mate of the vessel.)  Captain Stadling refused and the young lad, Selkirk, elected to remain behind on the desolate island rather than risk death at sea. It is recorded that, “Selkirk was put ashore with his bedding, a musket, pistol, gunpowder, hatchet, knife, his navigation tools, a pot for boiling food, two pounds of tobacco, some cheese and jam, a flask of rum and his Bible. He had made the biggest decision of his life. No longer just a complainer, he had taken action.” No doubt our Robinson Crusoe to be thought another ship would sail by his island soon enough—that took four and one-half years to happen!

Greta has set herself out upon an island of belief surrounded by a sea of media attention, slashing rhetoric and attacking foes who fiercely disagree with her opinions. She made her decision. and watched the easier life she might otherwise have had set sail. Her standing ground is conviction—but is she right?

It should be noted that Selkirk was. “Dampier(the captian who saved Selkirk) told Selkirk the bittersweet news that he had been all too right about the decrepit Cinque Ports. Soon after abandoning the Scotsman in 1704 the ship sank off the coast of Peru, killing all but Stradling (The Captian who would not heed Selkirk’s advice) and a dozen or so men, who wound up in Spanish prisons.” In fact, that ship sank in a matter of two days after leaving Selkirk on the abandoned island.

It’s also a sad truth that Selkirk became somewhat of a notoriety in England once his story became known, and he had more than enough money, but his life never lived up to the joy he found in solitude.  This is why Selkirk returned to the sea at age 44 to sail once again. However, fever soon took hold of much of the crew who died and they were thrown over board. It was recorded, “On December 13, 1721,………..North to northwest. Small Breeze and fair,” it read. “Took 3 Englishmen out of a Dutch ship and at 8 pm. Alexander Selkirk . . . died.”

Will Greta also find herself living a world she’d rather not see as time goes by? Will Greta Thunberg’s greatest moment be that she set her sights on what is right, but only to see that her message is left behind?  These are turbulent times and it seems those more powerful than her may strand her intentions in a tide of lawyers, business and money. I hope not. I hope Greta Thunberg finds a sea of people ready to right her sail and lift her message as an ocean of truth.

I’m willing to row her boat. You?

The earth is our ‘ship of state.’

Franque23

*For a more complete story

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-real-robinson-crusoe-74877644/

** Some facts differ from the book listed and the postings in the link. For one, Selkirk is said to be a young lad of 18 to 21  in the book when he was left on the island, not 28 as listed in the linked article. Here, I’ve deferred to the article linked.

 

 

 

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