The Power of Youth in Movements

1900455_615016998592661_1153849602_o     The word ‘movement’ implies just that- an action that creates some sort of shifting. All through the ages, massive social, economic and governmental upheavals have begun with a subtle change in the minds of the general population. Change of thought has especially often been perpetuated in the minds of the youth. True to stereotype, young people throughout history have used their naturally active minds and bodies to change society and shape the face of humanity into the recognizable character it now bears.

We need only take a swift tour of history to see the groundbreaking ideas that youth furthered through the use of the resources available to their generation and through the general passion that so feeds the individual. From the twisted to the true, movements introduced the population to new ways of life. Sometimes, the cue was taken from the older generations, as in segregation in mid 20th century America. Where adults faced great risk in protesting the unfair treatments of families and friends, such as job loss and imprisonment, children and young adults took it upon themselves, seeing as they had ‘less to lose’  to demand justice for their African American brothers and sisters. ‘Thus, on May 2, 1963, hundreds of students, some as young as 6‐years‐old, skipped school to carry signs and sing freedom songs protesting segregation.  By the end of the day, over 900 youth had been sent to Birmingham jails due to their peaceful protesting, and the jails overflowed, unable to hold such numbers.  With threats of suspension and expulsion from their principals, and the knowledge they would be thrown back into jail, the children still returned to the protest lines the very next day.  Police tried to dissuade the young protestors by spraying them with fire hoses and releasing attack dogs.  When pictures of these young protestors being attacked made front pages across the nation, society could no longer ignore what was taking place in Birmingham.  Due largely to youth participation, on May 10, 1963 the desegregation of many of Birmingham’s public facilities began.’ (The Children’s March, 2005)  Other examples are of youth rebelling against an oppressive system set up by older generations, spurring on movements never anticipated or encouraged by the youths elders. Such is the case of current protesters in Iran and Iraq, both of which forcefully impose Sharia law. Islamic penetration of culture is complete and often oppressive of any type of freedom of speech, expression or personality. Young people, despite fear of retribution, have begun, especially through the internet, to express dissatisfaction with this ancient way of life and propose changes, movements and unity among those who see the systems flaws. Forms of communication often include, blogs, video blogs, social networks and writings. The same type of movement exists among today’s young Christian church-goers who see the stagnation of dead communities of Christ around every corner. With renewed passion and vigor, they seek to ignite the light of the Holy Spirit in the minds and hearts of Christians around the world through documentaries, photography, relevant speaking or mission trips- hoping to see Christ move through them in a new way to reach new generations.

The use of technology in movements has radically molded the way we shape culture. No longer do we have to step out in the real world before we make an impact. An hour can see the fundraising of massive amounts of money, the union of hundreds, the birth of a new and controversial idea and so much more. The world of the internet and beyond has given it’s natives, the youth, the opportunity to speak out when and where the world tells them to be silent. I believe that as much as it’s used in a negative way, to promote twisted ideas, to tear down others, etc, it is also used to change lives for the better, set people free and spread vital news. The April 6th Facebook Movement in Egypt, for example sparked the Arab Spring, changed the face of the Middle East and continues in dynamic and explosive waves today. While a powerful tool for evil, media in general enters nearly every home around the globe and deeply influences thoughts and actions. From churches meeting deep inside the levels of a video game to resistance fighters of another era, youth have facilitated the shaping of nations and the creation and infiltration of media has only increased the potential. The idea is not that youth have nothing to lose- on the contrary, the same passion that drives them to their causes binds them to their families and friends, their possessions, countries and homes. The defining movers and shakers have continuously and consistently instituted that while they had to sacrifice deeply, they had nothing they wanted to keep so much as their freedom- and whether that be freedom to serve or freedom to rebel rested solely on the motive of their activism. To bring it full circle, the media as a sole and prioritized influencer in the lives of youth often shapes and defines motives. This threat, combined with the persecution of potential by apathy in today’s culture calls for yet another movement. In a world that scorns the walk of Christ and is baffled by reckless pursuit of that walk, youth are needed everyday, in everyday circumstances to stand and lead by example. In this movement, there is no need for soapboxes or microphones. There are no presidents or armies- though there are most certainly leaders and battles. These world changers stand against the powerful tide of their societies and countries to show the lies perpetuated with agenda and in turn encourage their friends and nations to change the world with the right motives; motives defined by the walk of Christ.


(This post is an installment of a 5 part blog series written in response to a community service learning ministry trip. The topics are in relation to what was learned, experienced and observed during that time.)  

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