The Rhythm of Engagement

Rhythm

There’s a rhythm of life that calls for each of us to feel and listen to it. Its in the footsteps we take, the handshakes we share, the kisses and hugs, the ways we type and write, and definitely in our breathing.

Its the rhythm of engagement.

Engagement, which is defined as the sustained connections we experience throughout our lives,  happens all around us all of the time. Every single one of us is engaged right now.

There are some people who are not engaged in things they want to be, or in ways we want them to be. They include:

  • Out-of-touch community workers
  • Disengaged students
  • Disconnected neighbors
  • Drifting romantic partners
  • Dispassionate workers
  • Puzzled retirees
  • Low performing salespeople
  • New entrepreneurs

In reality, everyone can benefit from feeling the rhythm of engagement in their lives. The folks above may specifically want to reconnect with the rhythm; you might too. That’s what I am working on providing next!

Share your thoughts below and ask questions if you want to learn more now, or simply wait for the coming weeks to see this next project to reveal itself. Engaging the disengaged is my goal; what’s yours?!?

Yelling Into A Vacuum: The World Is Busy Changing

 

There are a lot of people working to change the world right now. They’re caught up in writing the Great Handbook, building the Perfect Website, organizing the Ultimate Protest, and securing the Most Support for whatever they’re doing. Everyone thinks they’re doing their part, hopes they have the most effect, and wants to make a difference.

I’m one of these people. For most than two decades of my life I’ve been working to change change the world. Starting as a young man, I was involved with movements for environmental justice, self-empowerment, anti-racism, and youth voice. My career has built on that action, and has focused on youth engagement, student voice, and community empowerment. I have continued volunteering and donating my resources towards those causes too.

I’m at a point in my life when much of this action seems like its no longer effective, and some part of me struggles with whether it actually was. I even wonder who reads this blog anymore, since I rarely hear from anyone.

In my 20s, I heard a lot of older people harp on the notion of acting locally and really focusing energy on local change. I blew that out of the water with my world-focused work through Freechild and SoundOut, as well as my national and international consulting practice. Now, I understand why they insisted on acting locally; otherwise, you feel like you’re yelling into a vacuum.

The noisy, noisy world doesn’t allow us a lot of room for comfort, if we’re engaged authentically within ourselves. It insists we learn to get quiet and do small things, rather than trying to scream over the din of daily life.

This work of changing the world reminds me of the lesson about the seekers: “Not knowing how close the truth is to them, Beings seek for it afar — what a pity! They are like those who, being in the midst of water, Cry out for water, feeling thirst.”

The world is already changing, and a new world is being born every day! Let’s take comfort in that, and allow everything to be what it already is. The world is changing, changing, changing… Is there anything more we need to do?

 


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Share the Word!

Help spread the word about my latest book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People. You can share this post, or the webpage, or the Amazon.com page with your friends, family, and colleagues. 

You can also interview me for your blog, write an article about the book, or line me up with any of your contacts to do the same. Contact me today!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Youth Hyperbole of the Day

Two murders by two sets of teens within a week in two towns somewhere in America: Get ready for the onslaught of generalizations, hyperbole, and overall negative news about the state of youth today.

Once again, we’ll see the media overhype these particular situations to serve their own purposes.

In reality, young people murder young people every day in the US. Young people murder older people, old people murder young people, and old people murder old people. People of European descent murder people of African descent, people of African descent murder people of European descent, people of European descent murder people of European descent, people of African descent murder people of African descent. Rich murder poor, poor murder rich, rich murder rich, poor murder poor.

Guess which of these will get news coverage? The ones that makes the most profit for the media, the advertisers, and the manufacturers who buy advertisements.

On the other end, parents and teachers, youth workers and counselors across the country and even reaching around the world will be left with the further disenfranchisement of their young people. All because a few people will make many dollars off a few particular circumstances that are strung together in a convenient package to form a false image of the state of youth today.

If it isn’t violence, there is a litany of other topics focused on children and youth that are hyped by the media too, including education, healthcare, pop culture, toys, fashion, employment, and much more.

This makes media outlets no different from the rappers they frequently disparage, or the politicians who demonize these events in order to further their careers. However, instead of sensationalizing youth violence today, we need to be talking about how, why, and where discrimination against young people is happening today.

In my new book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People, I explore how the media, schools, governments, and others work together to make their hyperbole sell web ads, mold politicians, drive school agendas, and generally blow up democracy and public well-being every single day.

That’s the real conversation we need to have.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Recognizing Systems of Adultism

It is important to look beyond individual ways that people discriminate and are discriminated against to see that there are systems that define, support, promote, and sustain adultism. Everyone is affected by systems of adultism. The ways that adultism surfaces are so broad that it can feel overwhelming to try to name them. Systems of adultism stack up and cross other discrimination. However, when recognizing that adultism affects all people simply because of their age, it can become easier to see it. The timeline of any person’s life can be used to see the systems of adultism at work from the time they’re born until they become adults.

Before You Were Born

Before a person is born, they are subjected to the consciousness of their birth parents. Whether she is aware of it or not, the birth mother may be discriminating against her unborn child by subjecting it to what she thinks is best, rather than what science or experience says is best for the child. That can have both positive and challenging effects throughout life. The ways humans are born reflects adultism against infants, as sterile, scheduled C-section births demonstrate adults’ intentions almost as overtly as home births. As the child arrives in the world, the ways a parent treats them, talks to them, feeds them, and otherwise cares for them can demonstrate adultism, too.

When You Were Young

A parents’ child raising approach can reveal adultism against their own children in many ways. Addressing a child as “theirs” reveals a sentiment of ownership or belonging, which some people see as oppressive and purely discriminatory towards young people. Economic systems that ensure a child’s reliance on parents for their food, housing, clothes, and general well-being can be seen as adultism, as can educational systems that force parents to ensure their children attend schools. The ways power and authority are exerted within a household can demonstrate adultism, as older children exert power over their siblings or male children over females, which in turn reveals how adultism ripples beyond age and towards sexism and gender discrimination.

People Around You

As a child is growing, their neighborhoods may embody adultism. Neighbors may feel they have authority over children and youth simply because of their age. They might use this to enforce their knowledge over young people, or to secure their private property. Similarly, systems throughout a young person’s life reveal related patterns. This includes hospitals, which routinely distrust the opinions and understanding s children and youth have about their own bodies. During out-of-school time, youth workers, childcare providers, and other adults in the lives of young people often feel compelled to rationalize adultism by saying they know better. Rather than falling back on their own judgment, law enforcement professionals have the law on their side, including judges, politicians, and even the voting citizenry.

Forming Systems of Adultism

At the same time all of those elements work independently, they work together to ensure a singular experience of adultism that affects every young person individually. Adultism virtually ensures the disenfranchisement of every single child and youth, ending for some when they become adults and are expected to perpetuate it against young people. For those who don’t comply with this system, there are punishments that are so complex they look like “just the way the world works.”

The depth of this system of adultism requires further examination to really understand how these individual pieces of the puzzle work together to form a whole picture.

No Ms. Smith, There’s No Such Thing As Troubled Youth

Dear Ms. Smith,

I recently read your blog the other day about “troubled youth”, and felt compelled to respond.

I know you meant well, but the way you framed the problem was diminutive and belittling of the teens you are talking about. Unfortunately, most writers do it this way, because that’s the way mainstream society frames the argument.

I take umbrage with this, because there isn’t a youth on this planet who is “troubled”. There are a lot of incapable adults who are ignorant of how to reach young people of all kinds. I’m not saying those as mean words either, but as accurate descriptors.

These adults are parents who don’t know how to parent, teachers who don’t know how to teach, a society that doesn’t know how to be a community.

That doesn’t make the situations they’re in the fault of these so-called troubled youth, but of the society we share. It’s our problem. We’re the troubled ones, especially the voters who allow services to go unfunded and the politicians who are beholden to the prisons where “those kids” get sent off to, or the service industry jobs they end up in for a lifetime of indentured servitude.

They aren’t troubled youth; we’re a troubled society. We need to accept that responsibility. As Jiddu Krishnamurti wrote, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

These young people could be canaries in a cave, as it were. What are they telling us?

Sincerely,

 – Adam

Post Script: It was just announced that George Zimmerman is not guilty of six charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin. I will let this post stand as my tribute to that situation, and will write more at a later date.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!