This week we want to highlight some of the issues that are spurring youth to get active in their communities and what they are doing about them.
Young people are yearning to understand the world, even when the truth is horrible, so that they can change it for the better. Mary Elizabeth Williams writes in Salon: “They’re questioning and curious and skeptical and intensely philosophical. They want to make sense of the world and reasons people do the things they do. They have amazing ideas, ideas that are too often wrung out of them by a school culture increasingly devoted to filling in little circles and insisting there’s only one correct answer to any problem that comes along, and only one way of arriving at that.”
She wrote about a fifth grade student in Florida who won an award for his essay called “In the Name of Religion” in which he described the use of religion to justify war and mass murder. His school tried to take away his award and prevent him from reading his essay to his classmates.
Instead of creating an environment for honest discussion of the past and present which would facilitate reconciliation, school text books and programs perpetuate the status quo. For example, high school textbooks often gloss over injustices such as the fact that racial segregation was caused by explicit policies and not by societal norms.
And rather than discussing the US as the world’s largest empire, that imperialist mentality is cultivated at a young age in the guise of a ‘youth development program,’ otherwise called the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC). Ann Jones writes that this program is “pushed by multiple high-powered, highly paid public relations and advertising firms under contract to the Department of Defense .” She calls it the world’s most effective child soldier recruitment program.