Monday, July 30, 2007

Youth people and intellectual engagement

The youth organization I belonged to in the 80s and 90s were the place which shaped me immensely. I'm not sure whether it has been for the good. What I do know however is that I found many people in key positions who, at some point served as youth leaders of mine. The least that I can offer then, is to say she or he were at one point my youth leader. This begs the question: did the youth work shape them to be who they are today, or were they in any case, destined for greatness because of some other reason and were only surfacing in our youth organization. Whatever your answer to this: the point is that we need to take serious those young people who are surfacing at our humble and sometimes clumsy youth organizations. We need to track them and possibly learn from them, they can most likely be the next generation of key thinkers, decision makers, i.e world makers.
Yes, some fall through the cracks and never surface again, or surface later. It doesn't mean that the input in their lives were in vain. I however would surmise that, even the space of world making, is not necessarily the hallowed halls of fame, but many a time incognito in the streets, the protest movements, those forms of collective behavior we have labeled 'rebellious', 'irresponsible' or 'in vain'. Who determines these definitions and who have the power to put people in these categories? Aren't these categories only our fearful labels for notions like 'creativity', 'imagination' and 'hope'?
Maybe we fail in youth work when our young people grow up to be the silent and subdued mass, domesticated and mere mirrors of an adult culture that is devoid of creativity, imagination and hope.