I was reading this weeks copy of The Big Issue and in John Bird’s editorial, the focus was on the growing numbers of 16-24 year olds in the UK who are now classified as ‘NEET’ (Not in Employment, Education or Training) – nearly a million across the UK, if you wanted to know – and he said that we as a society are doing them a huge disservice by allowing them to waste their youth with nothing to show for it, after all they can’t all be turned into athletes (this in the afterglow and inspiration of the London 2012 Olympics).
One of Mr. Bird’s comments really resonated with me –
…we will have to make the big investment in youth, either in their betterment or in protecting the rest of society because we have allowed them to go off. I would put th money on turning the young around. Or we will have lost them for ever.
The political parties are so stretched to address these ‘times of economic crisis’ that the focus is all on bringing today into shape. A few weeks ago Mr. Bird’s editoril saluted the idea of finding a new Churchill, citing that in order to protect the future of Britain, during WWII, he effectively mortgaged the country up to the hilt to make things happen. My historical knowledge of Churchill and his doings is
fairly poor nearly non-existent, but this seems like the germ of an idea.
We need to invest in our children and teenagers. We need to teach them right from wrong. We need to teach them that no matter how small they feel their voice to be, it is important for them to express their opinions. It is more important to teach adults to listen. We may need to teach our children that the system is failing them and that they need to fight against it in order to make something of themselves. We need to teach them how to take appropriate action. And yet it’s not just the young who need to learn.
The London Riots back in 2011 were quite exciting in a way – it felt almost as though history might turn full circle into a revolution followed by a period of ‘Laird and serfdom’, but with a little more optimism. The riots were rapidly quashed though, and when it transpired that people were merely nicking trainers and flatscreen televisions, it felt somewhat farcical. That’s no way to start a revolution.
So I propose this type of revolution – a quiet one. We re-establish communities where people feel accepted for who they are, feel nurtured by the group and are allowed to express their emotions and opinions and be heard. We develop the idea that everyone counts and is valuable, whoever they are. We separate out the intrinsic value of each person from the behaviours they exhibit and try to support each individual into feeling they are not the sum of their experiences and behaviours, but that they, as a person, are vital.
That’s not to say that each person’s opinion/behaviour will always be acceptable, or should go unchallenged, but lets just get ourselves operational as little societies where people matter to one another. Lets create some feelings of affirmation, acceptance, acknowledgement, for these are the things people NEED. Lets challenge entitlement and develop contributions, for we all can make them, long to make them; we just need the opportunity.
Lets all aim to develop a new generation to lead us – a generation concerned with the wellbeing of the individual, not with getting one over on the other guy. And lets get on with doing it – make it happen rather than waiting to feel like it or to feel capable of it. Lets pin our colours to the mast and just go for it.