Youth are reckless, careless and naive. That’s the stigma our elders have placed on us for generations.
For too long, youth have not had a say in the decisions that impact them. We have been locked out of the important meetings because it was decided that we are not yet capable of understanding how to handle such matters.
This seems invalid. Young people offer a fresh perspective — one that challenges old and trusted traditions. Very few people are open to changing the way things are, which is why the door is closed on us.
Instead of waiting for the opportunity for us to enact change, we must take it. We have to find our voice and use it against everyone who shut the door on us, everyone who made the decisions for us and everyone who thinks we are too young to know what’s best. We can’t wait for someone else to decide when we’re ready.
It’s not impossible. Youth have found their voices, taking charge and succeeding many times throughout history.
They’ve been essential in various activist movements, like the Greensboro sit-ins and university uprisings. From Tiananmen Square and Vietnam War protests to marching against gun violence and for black lives, young people have stood and spoken up.
These were instances when youth were on the front lines, sometimes even risking their lives, in order to change a world their elders could not.
This was not an easy thing to do. It’s hard to find your voice but once you do, it’s surprising how much power your voice can have. This can only be tapped into if you choose to use it.
Some have grown complacent in their bubble, where issues that don’t directly affect them simply don’t exist. It is a bubble where a voice isn’t imperative to self-preservation. In this bubble, the privilege to turn a blind eye lives.
However, we must remember what Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We will inherit this earth, together — a world in dire need of help in more ways than one. If we don’t step out of our bubble and enact change where change is needed, this world will die. Our children and grandchildren will live in a world riddled with the ruins and shambles of our silence.
There are many issues in today’s world that will affect tomorrow’s. These issues are present in nearly all aspects of society, from environmental to social, economic to political and cultural to sustainable. We cannot sit idly by as our future is crafted for us. After all, it is our future, not anyone else’s.
There will be opposition, people who will try to demean our integrity. Authority will attempt to silence us. But if we stand with our feet planted firmly, our heads held high and voices unmatched, we will not bow.
The floor is now ours. We have the power to find what kind of change is important to us and do what we can to improve our lives and the lives of others. The only thing that can stop us is ourselves. Once we find our voice, our greatest enemy is no longer the people in charge, it’s ourselves.
We must take some time, think about overlapping passions, listen to the world around and understand that our greatest power is how different each voice is.
Miguel Cole, ’21, is a columnist for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]