Young people — young admittedly a relative term — are stepping up to solve the world’s problems.
And while that may be threatening to many older people — older admittedly a relative term too — it is time for the up-and-coming young to grab the reins of power. They need to influence — and make decisions — about what kind of future we have.
After all, it’s their future, too. Maybe more so than the rest of us. And something has to be done about the manifold problems we face globally, nationally, statewide and at the local level.
Perhaps the most recent example of youthful power and influence was splashed across last week’s Time magazine cover. It featured 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg as the magazine’s choice for “Person of the Year.”
She certainly deserves it.
Thunberg has supercharged the efforts of activists across the globe fighting against climate change. Her message has even won praise from the Vatican.
“Today it is the young people who are able to understand with their heart that the survival of the planet is a fundamental issue,” Pope Francis has said.
And even while she has been rallying people of all ages to save the planet, Thunberg found time to cleverly best President Donald Trump in a Twitter duel.
The Swedish teen has lots of youngish company besides the millions of young people marching with her around the world.
In Finland, Sanna Marin just became the world’s youngest sitting prime minister, prompting The New York Times to headline a story about her election: “Incoming Premier, 34, Leads New Generation to Power in Finland.”
In the U.S., 30-year-old Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and a cohort of young legislators and activists are fighting to overturn a moribund legislative system.
On the campaign trail for U.S. president, 37-year-old Democratic Party candidate Pete Buttigieg is waging a solid run to earn his party’s nomination, though he is only two years above the minimum age to even run for the highest office in the nation.
In Geneva, it looks like the average age of city councilors dipped with the results of the November election.
And even labor unions are showing a tilt toward embracing younger leaders.
In a hotly contested race for the post of international president of the News Guild-Communication Workers of America, 32-year-old Jon Schleuss beat 59-year-old veteran union pol Bernie Lunzer.
The CWA union election upset by Schleuss is emblematic of the energy and desire for serious change that a new class of youthful leaders brings to the table.
Schleuss campaigned for more transparency in the union, more cutting-edge efforts to organize newsrooms and essentially no more business-as-usual — a common theme among this new generation.
Greta Thunberg has excoriated leaders across the globe for squabbling about petty details and half-measures to lower carbon emissions while the extinction of the human race is a real threat.
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez was pivotal in bringing forward the controversial Green New Deal proposal in Congress and has shown little patience for any half-measures across the political landscape.
Sanna Marin says she wants to ensure a safe childhood, solid education and the ability for all to pursue dreams in her nation.
“Enabling it for everyone has driven me into politics,” she says.
When my oldest child was born nearly five decades ago in Lakewood, N.Y. near Lake Chautauqua, my mother told me that “Children are the hope of the world.”
That’s as true today as when she was quoting Cuban poet Jose Marti.
The best hope we have today is that this wave of younger people stepping forward to fix our world is willing to try out ideas older generations have dismissed. And new ideas.
They are our hope. And our future.