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Alex Blanes

Student, Vancouver Island University


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How can we cultivate courageous, non-violent dialogue between youth and power?

Today, August 12th, 2011, the United Nations' "International Year of Youth" draws to a close. It has been a very interesting year—one of the biggest in recent history for youth-instigated riots, uprisings and revolutions. Perhaps not what Ban Ki-Moon had in mind when he made the statement, "Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels"!

However, I believe their initial intention to sponsor "Dialogue and Mutual Understanding" between the young and the elite was, and is, a very important one. In fact, I would argue that many of the riots this past year could be attributed to a very profound lack of communication between youth and power.

I believe that if we lack a healthy relationship between ourselves and the unknown, it's difficult to be courageous. The young people of today, myself included, do not have any healthy way of relating to the unknown, seemingly mindless politics of their elders. This is why so many young people lash out—it is their violent form of questioning the silent authority. Neither method is indicative of a real conversation.

So my question is this: how can we stimulate a courage that is constructive, based on communication and positive risk, and not merely on reckless deconstruction of the old paradigms (which is not truly courageous at all)? How do we reconcile the passion and novelty of youth with the sensibility and experience of older generations? How do we enable youth to challenge their leaders, and how do we solicit leaders to challenge their youth—in a mutually respectful dialectic? How do we inspire youth to follow the wise words of Buckminster Fuller: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete"?


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  • Aug 14 2011: I have to agree with Mike Myatt, that what the youth need and require is first and foremost mentoreship first from their parents/families and then the community around them. Its not simple to just say we need more leaders and programs making the roots more engaged. All these solutions donot tackle the root problem , whcih is basically the social decay of the family structure in the west. With families being more dissected and even the definiton of family subject to change, there is no real sense of belonging for the youth. They have no real mentors or trustworthy relations. We are starting to see the ramifications of the free-world, with its neo-liberal and individualism based social structure. The youth of today are very much distracted, unfocused, unaware of firstly themselves and clearly of the world around them. I am not beign a pesimistic but realistically speaking majority of the first world youth have been brainwashed or are distracted by irrelevant popular culture and media. I think the solution is to get back to the roots, we have given to much power to the individual and not enough responsibility. we need to strengthen our family ties and bonds with our kin. So that that real sense of community and sense of belongining develops. The Egyptian revolution worked, because the social structure there is world apart from the social structure that exists in the west. The youth i believe need good parenting and a family structure for them to grow in and develop their sense of being. I feel the uk riots and even vancover riots was just a glimpse of the unrest and unhappiness that exists in the youth. Its almost like the analogy of sick baby, it knows it sick but it cannot express it in words, so it just cries and throws a tantrum.

    We cannot continue this sort of liberal approach to the youth, by giving them endless independence and liberty to do whatever they like, whenever they like, they require good discipline and mentorship whichs tarts from teh family.

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