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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 24 2011: Power is violence...and youth is a fight for idenity.
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      Aug 26 2011: Dear Curtis,
      Violence is not real power, even if it appears that the one who controls the victim is powerful. Violence against others is a sign of weakness and insecurity. A really powerful person does not have to control or violate others in any way. In fact, a really powerful person, will encourage and support others. There are many young people appearing here on TED who know this, and it causes me to be hopeful for our future. They are building "a new model that makes the existing model obsolete". :>)
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        Aug 27 2011: "Power itself must be abolished—and not solely because of a refusal to be dominated, which is at the heart of all traditional struggles—but also, just as violently, in the refusal to dominate. Intelligence cannot, can never be in power because intelligence consists of this double refusal."

        - Jean Baudrillard
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          Aug 27 2011: Alex,
          I believe that intelligence can be very much a part of the new model that is evolving. The new model also embraces respect, kindness, compassion, empathy and acceptance of each other. So, the new model will use the power of love, rather than the power of fear. Our intelligence may grow in a different direction to benefit the whole. This is what I see in the explorations of young people:>)
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        Aug 27 2011: Dear Colleen,
        I said "power is violence" not "violence is power" (and I wholy agree with you on that), and when it comes time to replace the old model with the new there will be a power struggle (not everyone will want the new model), even if your beautiful smile was selling the new model others would find it equally offensive. As far as the young people on TED, While I believe in thier intelligence and that they will help influence the future (and please understand that I am not trying to put-down theTED youth or say they could'nt learn in anyway), I think a good percentage lack the street smarts and understanding of...let's just say the less priviledged.
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          Aug 27 2011: Curtis,
          Sorry if I misinterpreted your statement. I agree that not everyone will want the new model, but it appears that more and more people all the time are searching for a new model, so maybe more people will want it, than those who do not want it. There is power in majority?
          I really percieve the youth of today leading this march into the new model:>)

          p.s. Thanks for the lovely compliment:>)

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