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Every year around 3,000 influencers from all sectors travel from their corner of the globe to Davos for the World Economic Forum to discuss ‘how to build a better version of globalization.’
In his speech there in 2018 Justin Trudeau said, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.” He acknowledged that people are “rightly anxious” about the level of disruption, asking his audience to “imagine how the folks who aren’t in this room are feeling.”
And there were a lot of people not in that room.
But arguably it is the people who were in the room who should be the most anxious. Because today, all across the globe, there is an army of young activists challenging the status quo.
Ten years ago, an 11-year-old Malala Yousafzai published her pseudonymous first blog on BBC Urdu, disagreeing with the Taliban about education for girls. Today she is a Nobel Peace Prize winning Oxford student.
In 2017, here in Scotland Jordan Daly was awarded LGBT Role Model of the Year at the ICON Awards, having founded the Time for Inclusive Education campaign in 2015 with his friend Liam Stevenson. In November 2018 the Scottish Government agreed to embed in the national curriculum everything the TIE campaign had called for.
And last year, Emma Gonzales spoke through her grief in a now famous speech. She called out the gun lobby’s stranglehold on American politics, she organised noisy marches and she stood for six striking minutes of silence. Her skilful, earnest, emotional use of words and the absence of words was powerful and moving.
And today sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg is watched by the world as she sails across the Atlantic. She is part of a rising youth movement: climate justice strikes, nonviolent civil disobedience by Extinction Rebellion and even the recent surge in sales of children’s environmental books (dubbed ‘the Greta effect’) shows an eagerness and a unity across the younger population.
Uniting these diverse movements is an ethos: these young people aren’t interested in patching up the systems as they stand – they want to build something radically better to take its place.
Faced with this, Trudeau’s audience feeling anxious may be understandable, but this anxiety would also be misplaced.
Activism can be the cure for anxiety and fear.
The social action these young people are leading is radical, yes, but it is radical with a purpose: it is visionary.
Polling consistently shows that today’s older and younger generations think, and vote, differently – be that on climate change, Brexit or a host of other issues. Yet it is young people that will have to live with the consequences. They will inevitably be responsible for the future world.
Corra is trying to play its part in encouraging young people to amplify their voice. Young people contributed their ideas and insights to the 2019 Change Convention. Members of Children’s Parliament delivered change maker workshops, sharing what’s important to them and their vision for a Scotland where children grow up safe, happy and healthy. Young Leaders Divine and Somer from GK Experience and Rebecca from PEEK (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid) spoke to the audience of 200 people challenging everyone to change the negative language used to describe young people experiencing poverty.
But it is not enough to just support young people. We need to give them the power they’ve shown themselves so capable of using well. And doing this means giving up the power we hold. We need to step away so that they can step in.
Here is one way that it could be done… encourage the media to pass their power to young people. Let young people be the guest editors, let them design the media schedule based on what is important to them and report on it. Give them the platform to do what they are already doing and make sure that we all hear about it.
Move with the movement of the world and pass your power forward.