Time Magazine Person of the Year: Honoring the protester

The world is significantly different today, December 15, 2011 than it was on January 1, 2011.

All because of young people with ideas.

Proof that ideas matter more than ever

While we had Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver and idiots who pepper sprayed shoppers over bargains on Black Friday, young men and women were being killed and imprisoned in Egypt and Libya.  While we complained about not getting a raise, a promotion or some other perceived entitlement, a young women was shot by a sniper in Iran and a young man set himself on fire in Tunisia.

Young people with stupid ideas make the local news.

Young people with good ideas make the world news.

Young people have sparked everything from the French Revolution to Tienanmen Square to the Arab Spring.  They do it largely out of indignation, and also for adventure and brotherhood.  But they do it because, however naive their vision of the future, they’re willing to try to change things.

We were all young once.  At one instance, we might have even thought to take up arms against the system.  But then suddenly, we grew up and became a part of that system.  We get jobs, buy a car and pop out kids.  But do we want our kids to be like us? Or do we want our kids to be like those protesting in the Middle East?

If we encourage our kids to follow a conventional path, they will be conventional people.  If we don’t encourage our kids to be skeptical of all institutions, be it religious, government, or corporate, do we chance turning out risk-adverse, muted clones of ourselves?  We keep our mouths shut because we think that’s what we need to do to keep our jobs and our incomes.  But it’s people who speak up who change things for the better.  It’s people like those in Tahrir Square (Egypt) who gave you the choice of complacency.  Whatever freedom you enjoy today, wherever you live, is because somebody else bled for it.  There is no exception to this rule.  And more often than not, it was a young person.

The word ‘hate’ is terrible.  But I hate people who forget that they were young once.  That they once had a voice they weren’t afraid to use.  That they once hated being told what to do.  That they once would drop everything to join their brothers to fight an oppressive system.

History is happening right now.  Tell your kids about it.  Tell them that the kids dying in the Middle East are not much older than them. Tell them that people who speak up are the people who change the world.

Encourage your kids to speak up.  Encourage your kids to create rather than follow.   Encourage your kids to question everything.

They don’t have to change the world but they need to know they can.

Fantastic choice Time Magazine!



Related:  Dude, you were young once.   When diplomacy makes us dumb.  Why years experience is mostly B.S.