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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 19 2011: First of all - people have to be willing to listen - to act in a respectful way towards their counterpart. I used to transform a quote of Rosa Luxemberg - German Revolutionary at the times of WW1 - saying that freedom is always the freedom of the dissident - "Respect is always the respect for the experience, the other one has gained." A very rare thing to find these days. It was quite hard for me - a man of 47 years, I dare say - well educated - architect and urban planner, speaking a couple of languages - to explain even to my parents, that the world nowadays is a different one than the world 40 years ago. Was very hard to explain them, that it wasn't my fault, that the system spit me out.
    And - who's listening - who's caring about kids any more. There was another quote of the "Sponti-movement" - following 1968 student rebellions here: "You've got no chance - go for it !" - Later it was Punk, saying "No Future" and - "we're the ones, our parents warned us against." Now it's altogether - and - I'm an indignant as much as the guys on Puerta del Sol in Madrid and Placa Cataluniya in Barcelona, in Chile and the Free Gaza Youth kids in Gaza, knowing, that my own kids won't have a chance in a system of barbarianism and cannibalism - such as their father, who always protected his teams in pretty doubtful hierarchies against people, who weren't able to listen. I mustn't say here, that I know, that I'm not an angel - I'm writing my phd without having got a doctoral advisor - the system only offers me its bottom - and - Buckminister Fullers quote is a nice one, but - if nobody listens to your new models, cause everybody's out for quick and unilateral - black and white solutions ? The other day I told my Mom, that she always had said to me that one won't get gifts from the others - I replied - "Well - that's right. I know that and - I always had to work hard to get through many hassles. But - today we're one step further - today everything is taken away from us." Best- sf

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