A letter to young people

Dear young people,

As you seek to raise your voice and be heard, on gun violence, climate change, inequality, social justice, and the myriad issues you care dearly about, many people will tell you to shut up. They will tell you that you are unrealistic, wide-eyes, impractical. They will tell you that your lofty dreams of what could be are not only childish, but dangerous and reckless. They will ask you to leave the big decisions to the older generations, who have the experience and wisdom to steer us all in the right direction.

Please, do not listen to them.

They are telling you all this, because the messages you bring terrify them and endanger the world that they sought to create. Your messages of possibility reveal the flaws and blindspots of their leadership and their value systems. The world you are dreaming up in front of us is one in which their visions and ideals are sidelined and transcended in favor of higher, more beautiful visions.

This is a good thing.

Please know that your “impracticality” is your greatest asset, your greatest gift to us as a society. We for too long have held ourselves back by our own limited ideas of what could be. We have been fed a story of what is possible and realistic that we have failed to question adequately. This story has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, one which we unconsciously uphold.



You are changing all that. You are changing our ideas of what is possible.

Please know that every time someone tells you that you are unrealistic or unreasonable that what they are really saying is that they are scared of you. They are scared that your activism will take them out of their seats of power, where they are comfortable and in control. They are scared that your message reveals their own flaws and deficiencies, makes them obsolete. They are scared that your vision of the future is beyond their capacity to imagine.

Young people, you have more power than you think. You can be at the center of the change we need. And there are many of us ten, twenty, thirty years older than you who are deeply grateful for you and have your back. Please keep pushing. Please keep dreaming up a world that makes older generations confused, nervous, and afraid. Please keep dreaming up a world that most people don’t believe is possible.

This is what the younger generations have always done. You’re up.

 


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Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA with his partner Sara, child Owen, and cat Winnie.

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