Youth In Danger

Youth

This post isn’t directly about the moral dangers our youth face, but a perusal of this Google search will deepen your understanding about that…

~~~

But, look at this couple: so youthfully together, so fresh with Life and promise! They could be dead in tragic moments from engaging in an activity that far too many do with no thought of danger—exuberance overcoming vigilance…

While I was Twittering, I followed a link to a very well-produced yet grippingly graphic public service video from Wales. Though texting while driving isn’t normally considered a moral issue, it’s consequences could lead to issues of high moral concern…

Show it to all the youth you know…

Spiritual Quote:

“…the dangers facing the modern youth are becoming increasingly grave, and call for immediate solution. But, as experience clearly shows, the remedy to this truly sad and perplexing situation is not to be found in traditional and ecclesiastical religion. The dogmatism of the church has been discarded once for all. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith such as the one revealed to the world by Bahá’u’lláh. Religion, as in the past, is still the world’s sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man’s individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal.

“The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.”
From a letter Written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 17, 1926, Lights of Guidance, p. 630

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Young Powerhouse . . .

Feel downhearted about Humanity?

Think there’s no good reason to hope for the future?

Pretty much fed up with all the portrayals of humans as inept, powerless cogs in a wheel that’s stopped turning?

The three videos in this post should cure you of all those ills!

Thia Megia

She appeared on America’s Got Talent  at 14 year’s old and wowed them!

The following videos show her at 12—amateur videos that capture a Polished Soul showing us how to Live Life!!!

Spiritual Quote:

“We applaud those youth who, in respect of this period, have already engaged in some activity within their national and local communities or in collaboration with their peers in other countries, and call upon them to persevere in their unyielding efforts to acquire spiritual qualities and useful qualifications. For if they do so, the influence of their high- minded motivations will exert itself upon world developments conducive to a productive, progressive and peaceful future.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 May 08, Bahá’í Youth of the World

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Youth ~ Yes They Can !

youth_yes_they_canYouth have been mostly overlooked when adults consider solutions for critical problems.

Some typical responses are:

“They don’t have the experience or maturity to deal with major issues.”

“All they care about are watching videos and texting each other.”

“Youth? Their major interest is sex.”

“Help the world? Are you kidding?!”

Well, I happened on a video that shows a group of youth doing what most people consider an adult occupation.

In fact, they’re doing it just as well as the adults.

Mature? Capable? Informed? Organized? Disciplined?

Yes They Are!!!

Spiritual Quote:

“In spite of the encircling gloom….There are many notable signs of the awakening now in progress. Men and women everywhere, and the youth of both sexes in particular, are devoting their energies to the service of great ideals.

“National service in itself is a training for the reconstruction which must take place in the world…National service is great, but world service is greater.
Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway , p. 3

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The Future = Our Youth

youth_social-action_creative_productiveIt’s sad to contemplate but too many people’s attitude toward youth is to keep them “seen but not heard”. Anyone who hasn’t tried to really listen  to a young person won’t be able to see any value in encouraging youth to take a prominent role in shaping the future.

In preparation for today’s post, I first considered news items that showed programs to help youth increase their social awareness and improve their ability to be productive citizens.

An article from the Tri-County Times  in Michigan, Enforcing good behavior of students at school, looked promising but seemed to me to sound too much like the sales training classes I used to attend…

Then, there was the article from the Mercury News , Project helps Los Gatos middle school students thrive. Promising information but only about one school in the United States…

I considered doing rather complete coverage of a program, The Virtues Project  (ideas I’m preparing to use in a Junior Youth group in the community I live in), but, blogs being what they are—entities in their own right that can often “decide” what they want and abruptly change the blogger’s mind—, I continued surfing and eventually came back to a site that I’d referenced in my previous post: The FreeChild Project.

I began exploring the many links provided on programs that not only let youth be seen but also Heard. One of them led me to a page that “…showcases a collection of organizations that will provide you with a solid introduction to the world of youth leadership and community involvement.”

Now I was on to something!!

I ended up on a page from Idealist.Org that showcased the following remarkable  kids. They each have founded an organization that provides a valuable social service:

Kristen Thomas, teenager, Alexandra “Alex” Scott, 4 years old, Annie Wignall, 11 years old, Carolyn Rubenstein, 13 years old, Ilana Rothbein, 17 years old, Cody Clark, 12 years old, Craig Kielburger, 12 years old, Emily Douglas, 9 years old, Melissa Poe, 9 years old, Mischa Zimmermann, 13 years old, Jon Wagner-Holtz, 11 years old, Janine Licare Andrews and Aislin Livingstone, 9 years old and 7 years old, Ryan Hrelijac, 6 years old, Joel Holland, 15 years old, Richard Ludlow, 17 years old, Matthew Cortland and Tina Liu, 18 and 17 years old, Jennifer Corriero and Michael Furdyk, 19 and 17 years old, Brynn MacDonald, Jason Crowe, Nadia Campbell, 18 years old, Jennifer Staple, 18 years old, Kimmie Weeks, Teenager, Ocean Robbins and Ryan Eliason, 16 and 19 years old, Lindsay and Brittany Logsdon

“Seen but not Heard?” Heavens forbid!

Spiritual Quote:

“The cause of universal education deserves the utmost support, for no nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Such an education should promote the consciousness of both the oneness of humanity and the integral connection between humankind and the world of nature. By nurturing a sense of world citizenship, education can prepare the youth of the world for the organic changes in the structure of society which the principle of oneness implies.
Bahá’í International Community, 1992 June 06, Earth Charter

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Social Media, Youth, and Risk

children_youth_internet_risk

Jeremy and his mom, Susan, in their living-room

J: Whadaya mean, you want my passwords?

S: How old are you?

J: Mom, you know how old I am; you were there at my birth, remember?

S: Yes, dear, I certainly remember but, at your ripe old age of 13, I don’t think you have the social wisdom you need to make completely  independent decisions on the Internet.

J: You want to censor what I say to my online friends?

S: No, I want to collaborate with you; I want to share your experience and use my  experience in the world to help you make safe decisions.

J: You’re starting to sound like a politician…

S: Jeremy, I really mean what I’m saying. I trust your judgement as long as you’re fully informed. You just haven’t lived long enough to know all the traps people can set.

J: So, I can post what I want—you just wanna see it and maybe talk some things over?

S: You got it, sweetie.

J: Well… We can try it out for awhile but, if you start cramping my style, I’m gonna change my passwords.

S: O.K., I hope we don’t have to go that far. I’ll try to be as fair as I can.

J: Mom, I’m not doing anything wrong, ya know, and what about when I’m chatting…

S: I know you’re the most virtuous son in the world, but there’re plenty of people with less virtue who can seem  to be saints. Your chat activity is something we’ll have to have deeper consultation about…

J: Whew! You really are becoming a politician…

~~~~~~~~~
Jeremy gave his mother his passwords and Susan learned that she had a very responsible son…
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Our imaginary Susan and Jeremy have a rather remarkable relationship but there are  parents who treat their children with respect as they try to protect them.

There have been some recent reports published about social media and the risk they may pose for young users.

The one getting most of the attention now is called, Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, and comes out of a group at Harvard.

One of the most interesting findings was:

“With all three types of threats (sexual solicitation, online harassment, and problematic content), some minors are more likely to be at risk than others. Generally speaking, the characteristics of youth who report online victimization are similar to those of youth reporting offline victimization and those who are vulnerable in one online context are often vulnerable in multiple contexts. In the same way, those identified as ‘high risk’ (i.e., experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, or parental conflict) were twice as likely to receive online solicitations and a variety of psychosocial factors (such as substance use, sexual aggression, and poor bonds with caregivers) were correlated with online victimization.”

The report is heavy with detailed analyses of various technologies to protect youth yet does admit that technology is not the only answer.

An article from Agence France-Presse,  Technology alone ‘won’t assure youth safety on Internet’, which references the Harvard study, says:

“Risk for children appears more correlated to his or her ‘psychosocial’ profile than a particular Internet technology platform…”

They go on to identify the sponsors of the Harvard study:

“Task force members included Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, Symantec and Second Life creator Linden Labs.”

I’m sure you can see some positive as well as negative influences being brought to bear by organizations who have a financial interest in social media. Still, the bottom-line can be a significant pressure to pay attention to bad press, not to mention bad outcomes of online interactions.

An article from The Washington Times, Social networking benefits validated, references a different study that “…looked at more than 5,000 hours of online observation and found that the digital world is creating new opportunities for young people to grapple with social norms, explore interests, develop technical skills and work on new forms of self-expression.”

And, to reconsider the role technologies might play, an Australian study, Developments in Internet Filtering Technologies and Other Measures for Promoting Online Safety, is referenced in an article from ON LINE opinion,  Filtering won’t deliver for Aussie kids. They say: “Although it is accepted that children do face some risks online, these risks are more complex than government rhetoric sometimes indicates. Several studies, including the government’s own research, indicate that so-called ‘content risks’—the risks associated with viewing unwanted content—come a distant third to ‘communication risks’ and ‘e-security risks’.” Which to me says that filtering content does nothing to protect youth from potential harmful effects in the actual communicating they do online.

Protecting our younger online citizens is very important but doing it in a way that doesn’t hamper their “style” is at least equally important. It’s been shown that social media is empowering youth to take up Causes and they’re showing a remarkable ability to initiate positive change. The Free Child Project  has quite a collection of links that will show the value of not only protecting our kids from predators but also protecting their inalienable right to interact and do their best to use their unquenchable energy to help our suffering ol’ globe…

Spiritual Quote:

This quote was directed to Bahá’í youth but you can replace Bahá’í with any other Faith and the quote still maintains its value…


“For any person, whether Bahá’í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life’s work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry, and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person’s future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Bahá’í youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenge, and their greatest tests—opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá’í Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Bahá’í youth that it is they ‘who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá’í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it’.
From a letter of The Universal House of Justice to Bahá’í Youth in every Land, June 10, 1966

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Gaza and Its Civilians

Read All Our Gaza Posts Here
discussion_gaza_civilians

Miriam, Hamid, and Rebecca at the Park

Rebecca: O.K., we all have our quotes, let’s sit down and see if we have enough for the report.

They walk to the pavilion and get out their papers and books.

Rebecca: You start, Hamid.

Hamid: Well, I chose an article from the New York Times called, Many Civilian Targets, but One Core Question Among Gazans: Why?. Here are the three I ended up with:

“They hit my future with a rocket,” said Muhammad Baroud, one of the students at the Islamic University in Gaza City. “This is a university. What does it have to do with war?”

For Mr. Baroud and his friends, the bombing of the science lab building, which happened in the early days of the Israeli offensive, was a frontal attack on their future. The university is prestigious, and they said they worked hard to get there. It is one of the best medical schools in the region, and Israel recognizes its degrees.

“Are we going to study in a tent?” asked Mr. Baroud’s friend, Ahmed.

And,

The issue, in part, is about the very nature of Hamas. Gazans say that there is a range of relationships people have with the group, starting with sympathizer and ending with rocket launcher or suicide bomber. Just because someone likes Hamas does not mean that that person is necessarily working for the group, Gazans say.

Rebecca: Are there quotes in the article from the Israelis?

Hamid: Yes, do you think we need some of those?

Miriam: I  think so…

Rebecca: Yes.

Hamid: Will do.

Rebecca: Miriam, what do you have?

Miriam: I chose an article from the BBC News called, Gazans confront shattered lives, and I chose different segments from the article woven into one quote:

…for some Gazans even attempting to return home is virtually unimaginable. Amira al-Girim, 15, lies in a hospital bed with her leg in traction. She was found alone, bleeding in a house, about four days after she saw her father killed by an Israeli tank shell in front of her. Her brother and sister died – she thinks in an air strike – as they ran to get help….By the time she was found – she is not sure if it was three or four days later – she hardly knew her own name. But she remembers details…. She says she slept in the street for two days, but then found her way into another house. She had struggled some 500m with a badly broken, bleeding leg, in search of shelter as fighting raged nearby. ABC producer Sami Ziyara, who found Amira with his colleague Imad, said doctors told him she had only a few hours left to live at the point they found her in Imad’s house.

Miriam: That’s it…

Hamid: Powerful…

Rebecca: I think you found something we really need in the report. Is there a picture of her?

Miriam: Yes, here…

gaza_girl_suffering

Hamid: Poor, poor girl………

Miriam: Rebecca, what do you have?

Rebecca: Well… You guys may think I’ve flipped but I chose a quote of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from page 19 in a book called ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London. It was written in 1911. It’s a spiritual quotation but I think we can use it at the end of the report to drive our points home:

The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.

In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.

They went to Miriam’s home, finished the report, and sent an email copy to their teacher…

They got an A…

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Dangerous (?) Youth . . .

youth
What makes a youth go bad?

Why do youth so often seem to act in a contrary way?

What can make youth want to be supportive of productive change?

How can we harness the vast energy of youth in the most important causes of our time?

Why are the youth in Greece so mad?
From Fox News: Renewed Riots Break Out in Greece as Protesters Clash With Police

From Le Monde Diplomatique: Mass uprising of Greece’s youth

Spiritual Quote :

“Man must walk in many paths and be subjected to various processes in his evolution upward. Physically he is not born in full stature but passes through consecutive stages of fetus, infant, childhood, youth, maturity and old age. Suppose he had the power to remain young throughout his life. He then would not understand the meaning of old age and could not believe it existed. If he could not realize the condition of old age, he would not know that he was young. He would not know the difference between young and old without experiencing the old. Unless you have passed through the state of infancy, how would you know this was an infant beside you? If there were no wrong, how would you recognize the right? If it were not for sin, how would you appreciate virtue? If evil deeds were unknown, how could you commend good actions? If sickness did not exist, how would you understand health? Evil is nonexistent; it is the absence of good. Sickness is the loss of health; poverty, the lack of riches. When wealth disappears, you are poor; you look within the treasure box but find nothing there. Without knowledge there is ignorance; therefore, ignorance is simply the lack of knowledge. Death is the absence of life. Therefore, on the one hand, we have existence; on the other, nonexistence, negation or absence of existence.

“Briefly, the journey of the soul is necessary. The pathway of life is the road which leads to divine knowledge and attainment. Without training and guidance the soul could never progress beyond the conditions of its lower nature, which is ignorant and defective.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 295

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