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Our Future

A conversation I had with a young person in recent times sticks out in my head this week. Young people can often be accused of being self absorbed and disengaged with the world around them; in many instances that is true, but weren’t we all at that age? However, amidst our ever-increasing busyness, and incapacity to relate and connect with one another on a human level, we can overlook the insight of our youth, and the lessons they can teach us all. 

It was a wind-ranging conversation, with some impressive insight on behalf of the young person keeping me hugely engaged. However, what I found most fascinating was their assertion that human beings seem to be sleepwalking into a crisis we may not have the capacity to get out of. Probably even more incisive was their understanding of why this was; this young person displayed an acute awareness of the pressures and distractions that come with existing in contemporary times. While they didn’t offer this as an excuse for inaction, they were simply aware that this seems to be the reality, as they see it. 

I found myself somewhat conflicted. My initial exasperation at the potential displayed by this young person, quickly began to evaporate, as the reality of the accuracy of their comment began to bewilder me. Headlines have become overwhelming of late, and so perhaps it is less accurate to blame our collective inaction on complacency, and more accurate to assume it’s a self-preservation exercise. That being said, our collective inaction has brought us to the precipice we now face; at this stage last year, we had a refugee crisis and a climate change catastrophe being widely ignored, now we have Donald Trump and a particular hate filled, narcissistic brand of ignorance to add to the mix. 

Consequently, the winds of ignorance and hate have begun to rapidly sweep in from the Atlantic; the chill they bring threatening to confine humanity to a winter not experienced in many generations. We want to offer the world to our children, while simultaneously protecting their innocence, yet our paralysis will ensure the shelter you want to offer your children now, will be swept away tomorrow, by the tide of hate, ignorance and distrust that have become more commonplace. Critical analysis and political action is something we should all engage in now, if we are to have any hope of stopping the rot of fascism, ‘post truthism’, and climate change. The energy, insight and vision of youth are needed more now than they ever have been. By disengaging children and young people from the realities of the world around them, perhaps it is us who are most complicit in fueling contemporary existential threats? 

Standing up for what’s right should not be a taboo topic. Educating children and young people about the world around them should not be off limits. Don’t let the purveyors of fear control you, your actions, or your children’s future, for their particular brand of poison distills humanity from the world around us. Children and young people are smarter than we give them credit for. Of course it is crucial that we protect their innocence, but it is more crucial that we protect their futures. It’s time that we all realise that everyone has a part to play in protecting our own futures and that of the place we call home.

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