Thursday, September 4, 2008

Youth Have the Power!

Young environmental activists are popping up everywhere! We have a different view on life, and unless you are one of us, you may not realize how frustrated we feel, or that it is not a hindrance for our lives at all, but rather, it gives us power!

Many people my age are not afraid to express either our insecurities or our frustration about the way things are today, infact we probably want and need to. I think it's healthy for us to express these frustrations, especially since we have inherited an unhealthy planet to raise our own children in someday.

It is important to recognize that the younger generations are being told from a variety of sources that we will be the ones who will someday feel the full effects of climate change and environmental poisoning, and the outlook is even worse for my generation's children. As a women, these thoughts obviously way heavily on my mind and heart. It is my view that many older environmental activists will find that their message will hit the younger age demographic hardest, more specifically younger women, and we will become not only afraid of the "what if's" laid out by environmentalists before us, but we will be angry that we have to either live with or try to fix a problem that we did not create, at least not by our own doing. As a young person, I feel that this anger is healthy, as we have been dealt a rough card.

But please don't worry about me or the rest of us Young Greens for a second! Our frustration, our fear, our anger--- that's what gives us power as youth to create the change that is needed. It may surprise older generations to hear that many young people today are willing to sacrifice the traditional role of youth as carefree, driven by fun, and apathetic. But my generation, Generation X, is different! We are coming of age, and we recognize that we do have the power to change this world for the better! If the older generations are prepared to hear our frustrations, our worries, and most importantly, our anger towards those out there with bad intentions who have made our futures that much more complicated, we will succeed even faster!

Generation X fights hard, but we laugh even harder! No one knows how important it is to take time off, to have fun, and to come together for good times and great memories than generation X does! When we tackle the things in this world that we as a generation have deemed unjust, we gain a feeling of empowerment and great joy that has, unfortunately, been lost by so many other people our age. We are more interested in stopping the tar sands or learning about the risks of nuclear than in what Lindsay Lohan is doing or how many children Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have now, and we wouldn't have it any other way! We are proud of who we are and what we are doing, and this empowers us with joy!

After meeting a number of like minded youth over this past summer, the following are similarities in the priorities of environmentally progressive youth I have noticed:

*We care about communities. We want to experience the caring relationships and sense of sharing that comes out of these sort of arrangements where we take care of each other. Not only are communities sustainable, they are an essential part of human nature that has been misplaced for generation X by the computer age and widely dispersed families of the modern day. We are coming together to form communities, and we are already benefitting remarkably by doing this.

*We recognize the responsibility of technology. We know that computers are a tool and must not replace people, or control our lives. We are beginning to see cell phones as a mistake for our health, the environment, and our pocket books. We know that natural is better than artificial, and that profit often overrides human rights. We may feel this way about technology as a whole because we are the generation that would have the hardest time going back to a computerless world. Technology has brought so much good to us that we recognize the importance of using and developing it responsibly.

*We are willing to change our materialistic upbringing, often drastically. It is easier to change our ways when we are still young, and since we have many years ahead of us, we feel the urgency perhaps even more than older generations do. For example, many of us have given up driving, even more of us have given up meat or are eating less of it to lower our ecological footprint, etc. We demand organic because it is healthier for our young bodies and our young minds. We are willng to live with less "things" and to replace material goods with good times and friendship.

*We know the power of freedom of speech, and we are not afraid to use it. Never has youth been so passionate about the causes we tackle. The world is finally turning green out of necessity, and today's young environmental activists will potentially see the hard work of activists from the past 30 years come to fruition in our own lifetimes. It is exciting! We are on the verge of a revolution. My generation recognizes this, and we want to fight that much harder. We see that despite all the hard work of incredible activists who came before us, things like the tar sands or palm oil plantations have not ben stopped, and truthfully, we get scared by that. We feel that we must be that much braver, that much stronger, and that much louder than out predecessors. Amazing older activists will one day be passing the torch down to the younger generations, and we will be more than ready!

What I've learned from other youth this summer has not only fueled my ambitions, but has also brought the importance of friendship and community back into my life. I hope this message has shown you how honored I am to fight for a Green and just future.

It may come as a surprise that a 26 year-old like myself has chosen to devote my time to being a Green Party Candidate, Young Greens Councillor, and an activist, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! The brilliance and the joy of activism is that you don't have to feel powerless, no matter what you have to face. The people I continue to meet everyday in this journey make my heart smile, and the memories that I'm making will last a life-time!

In Solidarity,

Larissa Shasko

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