The Catalyst to Creating Change
The short answer? Youth.
There's something naturally synonymous about 'youth' and 'hope', but also 'cynic'. I think that's kinda wonderfully confusing. But I think it also illustrates this crazily fine line that is drawn during your youth. It's when you realise the world's pretty shit but there's a seemingly brief moment when it still seems changeable. This is not to say you can't be both cynical and hopeful, I do think they've been polarised and some cynicism is always needed to stay sane. However, I do think that we seem to fall into an either or situation with cynicism where adulthood is the deciding factor. A 'let's do something about this!' vs. a 'lets just get on with it', kinda situation.
The power of a spirit that dares to hope is rare.
More so, it's what we choose to do with that hope. There's a whole load of privilege in hoping. It's not easy and it's not always granted to every person. I believe it's also dependent on natural inclination and laziness. And, especially as you get older, hope becomes more of a choice than anything else. This is where cynicism becomes the alternative and, arguably, a much easier one. That's the greyscale of hope. It's so dependent on individuals and more so, how driven that individual is to act.
How much we're willing to act, to me, is, in part, a sign of how jaded we are as people. How damaged we've been, how cheated. It's the resentment that pushes us away from change and away from hope. Naturally, as you get older, resentment builds up. Life is not fair or easy, it's different for everyone, but generally at a younger age, there's less damage. I do acknowledge that part of this resentment is also linked to awareness and knowledge, but I believe it's worsened when that resentment is personal, and not just a reaction to the general.
Thus, a very small time gap is created. A pivotal gap between hope that the world can change because of our actions and a cynical disbelief that nothing will ever change. There's no particular age for this, I don't think, and of course it's different for everyone, but let's roughly go for teenhood right? For the purposes of this. And if we do go with teenhood, I cannot remember being encouraged by the most influential institution at that age to create change or have hope. The education system, at least here in the UK, is not concerned with the silly act of hope, are they now? But honestly, why aren't we?
Can you imagine harnessing the power in a tool like hope?
Some might argue that it is the responsibility of a guardian to teach these values, but I don't think it comes down to just one person. There should be a factor of community in creating hope and change. And if we go a step backwards, there needs to be more community in creating a culture amongst younger generations of hope and change.
And where we actually express a lot of dependency on younger generations as the hope for the future, I can't see how we can have that expectation if we're not actively
1) creating a culture of hope
2) teaching skills to create change
There's a huge weight at school of knowledge being the key to change. And I agree, I do think that knowledge holds power. But there's a difference between knowing and applying that knowledge to change something. I think there's a missing link here.
I was lucky enough to work with a brilliant non-profit organisation, Clubstride, based in California which focuses on youth led activism. I worked with a group of Clubstride, called Project VATU, working with kids and teaching skills like building online platforms and online activism. A lot of incredible work is being done though my non-profits and youth led initiatives. Grassroots work is some of the most powerful work around. But often, the reason it's so powerful I think, is because they've understood that the catalyst for change is youth.
I think the sooner we start to put more energy towards this, the better.