Friday, April 19, 2013

An Open Letter to Youth Around the World

I am so sorry. I’m so sorry about the world we’re passing down to you. We’ve broken it. We’re leaving you this planet in worse shape than we received it. We’re not doing what we can to sustain our resources or undo the damage that generations of people unknowingly (and knowingly, to be honest) caused. We’re not creating lasting solutions to any of our problems with each other. We’re not taking care of each other the way we should. We haven’t considered that emotional and mental stability matter just as much as economic stability—not that we’re helping much there, either. We’re handing you some pretty big messes to clean up.

It is easy to be cynical when confronted with these realities. Today I read news articles about the Boston marathon attacks, a bombing at a café in Baghdad, the failure of Congress regarding gun control, the negative effects standardized testing has on our schools, and a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. I read all that before 10am. It is so easy to say we’ve failed and let yourself harden and expect less and less of people.

Don’t. Please don’t become cynical about the world around you. There is so much good in people. It can be seen everywhere. The unfortunate part is that often it takes a tragedy for people to step outside their comfort zones and help. People open their homes to strangers, offer whatever help they can. People run towards disaster to help those who cannot help themselves. Earlier this week the New Zealand parliament passed a marriage equality bill and then spontaneously broke into song. A friend accepted a donation for the American Cancer Society from three children who lost their parents, “so maybe other moms and dads won’t die.” Kids from my secret life as a summer camp counselor contacted me with plans for Global Youth Service Day. Friends from around the globe contacted me about my family in Boston. There is good around you. Have the courage to look for it, and to show it off to others. We are more connected than we think and we are more alike than different.

Instead of being cynical, I ask you to be critical. Don’t accept that the world we are handing you is the world you have to keep. Question the status quo. Educate yourselves and look at the big picture. Look past your own community. Ask yourselves and each other if that is the world you want. Do what you can to change what isn’t working. Ask us to provide you with the tools you need to change it. Demand more from those who are making the decisions right now. You might not be in charge right now, but you will be one day. Don’t let anyone forget that. You are inheriting this planet from us and you deserve more. It is our job to take care of you and we’re not doing our best. Yet. But we can—I truly believe that. You have the potential to do amazing things. I can’t wait to see what you do.

Demand better from us. Speak up. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other.
Amanda (who is trying to be less bitter today) 

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