Yesterday I was scheming with a friend about what I’d do if I won the Nobel Prize for literature. Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t written anything worth awarding. But if I did I’d like to go the high road, the way of the righteous who hang their win on causes like saving whales or fighting racism. My cause would be engaging youth.
Why do I care? It’s been more than a decade since I’ve worn the title of youth. I haven’t had a full-time job as a youth advocate for more than a year. Legislation I’ve fought for has failed, programs I started have folded and funding I relied on has vaporized. These decades of professional work with and for young people have taught me a lot, and one of the things I’ve learned is that this heart of mine beats stronger than any of those apparatti.
I care because when I see the news I don’t feel a choice. When I hear the statistics I hear the unending possibilities. When I look at the world I see a place that without hope in children and youth has no hope at all; luckily, hope is all around. It’s the kid who’s audacious enough to speak at the city hall meeting. It’s the homeless girl who made a video about her friends’ lives on the street. It the club that evaluated their classes and the young city planners who rated youth-friendliness of local businesses. It’s also the academic who wrote the paper to make the case that all this deepens civic engagement. It’s the tweeter who keeps giving heads-up about discrimination. It’s my little sister, who as a mom of 4 at the age of 31 signed up for the anti-adultism group on facebook, and knows exactly what that means.
I am niave enough, or bold enough, or whatever to think we should all care. I believe that and adult who interacts with young people in any respect and is concsiencous enough to read this blog has an an ethical imperative to respond to the crisis status facing young people in our society today. That is why I care. What about you?