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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 20 2011: I myself am a youthful individual, and in the few years that I have walked the planet earth have learned enough to contribute to society. Often people of youth are viewed as naive, childish, however I believe that just because I am not sixty years old my views on socialist democracy or any serious or complicated topic should be taken any less seriously then someone who has lived twice as long as. The youth merely wish to make the world a better place than it was when we were children. I don't believe that youthful individuals are always right, however I think by not valuing our opinions "adults" run the risk of corrupting the minds that will one day become world leaders. By valuing the opinion of young creative minds, I believe we can continuely blend the new cultures with ones from the past, creating a better and smarter planet for everyone.

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