In Praise of Youth on International Youth Day
- Kamran Mofid
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A Message from Kamran Mofid to mark International Youth Day, 12 August 2012
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain
On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
The theme of International Youth Day 2012 is "Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth" — a global call to action to develop and engage in partnerships with and for youth.
Over 50% of the global population is under 30, and with the global population at over 7 billion - that’s a lot of young people. Young people are incredibly important in bringing about change, they are generally less afraid to speak out about what they believe in than older people, and they are the ones who are going to be affected the most by the decisions made today. If we effectively harness the leadership and potential of young people around the world then together we can empower youth for the common good.
We must realise that what the young lack in experience they make up for in courage and vision, dreams and hope for a better, more sustainable future.
In the words of Sir Winston Churchill:
“Come on now you young, all over the world. 'The earth is yours and the fullness thereof.' Accept your responsibilities. Raise the glorious flags again, advance them upon the new enemies, who constantly gather upon the front of the human army, and have only to be assaulted to be overthrown. You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. She was made to be wooed and won by youth.”
Whilst evoking Jefferson, Luther, Alexander and Joan of Arc, Robert Kennedy once declared that:
"The answer is to rely on youth. Not a time of life but a state of mind. A temper of the will. A quality of imagination. A predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease."
Today mark a time when youth are raising their voices to claim their place in the future of their communities, societies, countries and the world. The need to be heard, and to go beyond and actually shape decision-making, is of the essence.
Today the youth of the world have committed themselves to build a world that is just, free and prosperous for all, by promoting and practicing the true human values of love, compassion, justice, dialogue, truthfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, humility, courtesy, hard work, dedication, commitment, sympathy, empathy, volunteerism and service. Values such as these should never be underestimated; the power of a value-led life coupled with the commitment and the passion of young activists is a force for change that cannot be matched. The youth are empowering the world for the common good.
These qualities, essential for the moulding of character, must be internalised, and be expressed in daily action, whether in the context of family, community, country, or the world at large. The youth are an instrument of peace, promoting dialogue, advancing justice, so that we can all realise our dreams. The dream of young people has become the dream of the older generation. Their hope is now our hope.
Whilst paraphrasing the wise words of the United Nations Secretary- General, and echoing his hope, it can be seen that, around the world, there is growing recognition of the need to strengthen policies and investments involving young people. On International Youth Day, I call on Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to open doors for young people and strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations. Youth can determine whether this era moves toward greater peril or more positive change. They must not be let down.
Recalling the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi:
"I have the highest admiration for young people and I believe very strongly that they are dreamers, they are idealists, they believe it is possible to make poverty history and to have a world without war and where there is no hunger. I want to be able to enable young people to change the world and to make the world the place that God wants it to become.”
I know that young people are inspired by so much wisdom before them and are changing our troubled world for the better, enabling us to build a world fit for the common good.
Prof. Kamran Mofid
Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
Coventry, 12 August 2012