personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

Young people: hope for the future? Sure thing

Whew. I just googled two things: "are young people stupid," which gave me 162 million hits (!), and "young people hope for the future," which yielded 221 million hits. Not that this means much, but it's an indicator - completely unscientific, I know - that the word "hope" is linked more frequently with "young people" than stupid.

Old people like me (did I just call myself old? I meant wise) need to be reminded once in a while that the future of the human race is not doomed to extinction. I must admit when I look at the current state of human rights in the world, I wonder how we - collective we of Earth - got to this point. Also how we - the people of Earth whose rights are essentially fully realized - don't do more to help those in need. Because of this, old/wise people like me tend to look at youth/young people/anyone half my age with two things in mind: 1) we hope the smart, passionate and empathetic ones maintain their positive outlook on life and continue to make a difference in this world, and 2) we hope the stupid ones smarten up. Come on, let's be honest: when the old/wise ones look at the young stupid ones, they probably see a little bit of their own character reflected in their stupid youth. When we old/wise people tell the younger ones to smarten up, it's because we've been there, and it's not a good road to travel.

I say all this because a couple of weeks ago I met with two wonderful young persons who give me hope for the future. They're intelligent, passionate, have taken steps to travel around the world and see how less-priviledged people live, and are committed to making a difference in the lives of strangers. One of them helped organize a "comedy for a cause" event here in Montreal for an organization in Ecuador that provides education to children (United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children, International). She traveled to Ecuador last year and spent some time helping out the organization and wants to do more. The other went to Malawi last year to volunteer for an organization that helps youth (YONECO) and started Friends of YONECO, a group of like-minded individuals who are raising funds for YONECO and will travel to Malawi later this year to help the organization.

Hell, at 21 I spent my money on beer and my time watching Star Trek. I regret neither, but in retrospect, I could have done more. So a tip of the hat to Sophie and Neil, for showing us old/wise people that youth are a bright hope for the future, and they are also a reminder that the old/wise folks need to do their part as well.



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