At a training session at Green Party Conference, Jonathan Essex, Green Party Councillor for Redbridge said that the aim of politics is to "educate, agitate, and organise". Young People are the best agitators on the planet by nature of their inherent need to rebel and carve their own path. Yet whilst they are not being educated about politics - they are getting organised.
When people talk about 'young people' they often are referring to over 18 year olds, when these people are in fact adults. Here we are talking about those under 18, who do not have the benefits that adulthood brings (yes there are some). I am talking about things like being taken a bit more seriously, being able to access groups and platforms to air your views, being able to vote.
This means that the political space for those under 18 is incredibly small. This must be unbelievably frustrating for those who have an active interest in their own future. It is astonishing that politics isn't a part of secondary education, I mean it is only the force behind the air we breathe, the food we eat, and well, the schools these young people get to access. Love it or hate it, politics touches everything in our life; fact. We are doing our young people a disservice by not arming them with knowledge about the system, its players, and most importantly - how to change it.
There is so much potential, so much raw passion with the people in this age group. At this age they have the free time, the enthusiasm and the thirst to kick up a stink that politics needs - yet it is so hard for them to break through the middle-aged ceiling. Many young people don't even know how important it all is, unless they reach university and are stung by the fees., Then it gets real and it isn't their fault.
The thing is, it is the governments fault. The current system flourishes on ignorance, so why would they want to educate and empower our young people to have a say over their own future? The Prevent programme states that political activism, even environmental activism is flagged as an early warning signal for potential extremism or terrorism. Could this government be more preposterous? They are hacking away at our human right to protest, to free speech and to independent thought, and young people need to be aware of this and agitate; act.
If the current education system can't step up to the plate, then families, along with youth organisations need to tackle this epidemic of absurdity. The country is sick with apathy and like all diseases, we need to treat the root of the cause and start vaccinating our young people with political savvy.
Young people who are lucky enough to have others around them who are happy to cultivate their interests stand a chance. At present I am mentoring two young people with such a thirst. Caitlin Greenwood of Southampton and District Green Party is thriving with activism. Being home-schooled she doesn't have the same choking restrictions on what she can learn and when, or what hobbies are classed as 'suitable'.
She recently wrote a piece about why young people are the answer. She says:
"My generation is the one wanting to get involved to make the change, one way or another. We are the ones that will have to live with our ancestor's mistakes, and so the Green Party gives a viable option of a sustainable future."
This is just one example of a young person who is desperate to enact positive change. There must be thousands more out there. So if you know a young person with a thirst for more, for the world to be a different place, or who wants to act - encourage them. Enable them. Help them. Help create Generation Action. God knows the system won't.Suggest a correction