The power of youth: ground yourself in your views

Anyone that has turned on news broadcasts in the last three weeks is aware that the dictator who held the reins of power for three decades in Egypt was overthrown by an uprising of his subjects. Of course, the world looked on and began praising the youth of that country for their strength and resolution. Their assumed role in toppling an evil regime has ignited similar protests around the Middle East, and some are even calling for revolution here in the United States.


Anyone that has turned on news broadcasts in the last three weeks is aware that the dictator who held the reins of power for three decades in Egypt was overthrown by an uprising of his subjects. Of course, the world looked on and began praising the youth of that country for their strength and resolution. Their assumed role in toppling an evil regime has ignited similar protests around the Middle East, and some are even calling for revolution here in the United States.

At the University of Akron, we represent the youth of America. Over the past couple of years, we have seen similar unrest on our shores that has been grossly overlooked. Several protests have occurred at our nation’s capital, many of them attended by hundreds of thousands of people that are angry with our own government. The difference between American and Egyptian demonstrations is simple: the youth.

Unfortunately, I believe that in many of the revolutions overseas, the youth is being used by world powers. Social networking tools like Google and Facebook have been instrumental in organizing in the Middle East, and powerful forces like labor unions and Google executive Wael Ghonim, have co-opted the uprising. This is a dangerous precedent, and something to lookout for here in America.

In Wisconsin, the teacher’s union is leading a massive protest against their governor. The issue is over collective bargaining for benefits, and many students have stood beside their teachers. Although the solidarity presents an amazing picture of opposition, there is an unnerving trend in many interviews that I have seen. On more than one occasion, I have seen protesting students asked why they are there, and not one of them seemed to have a clue. They just know that their teachers asked them to show up. Worse yet, similar protests are reportedly on their way here to Ohio because of Gov. Kasich’s ideas for budget balancing.

I imagine that many of us will be asked to participate in marches on the state capital. I only ask that we educate ourselves on whatever cause we are supposed to support. Don’t allow yourself to be used to make a statement when you are unsure of the actual message. If you read the bills and dislike it, then by all means, stand up for your rights. However, do not be blind to the cause. Regardless of your knowledge of the topics, you must not allow your voice to be overtaken by inorganic organizing forces. Let your voice be heard, not that of a union head. The quickest way to quell legitimate grass roots anger is for corporate influence to corrupt the purity of the people.

Some very crazy times are ahead of us. The world around us is changing, and we had better wise up to our own beliefs. Ground yourself in whichever worldview you so choose, but beware of those that seek to use you. Stand your ground and be heard. It is apparent that the world is looking toward youth to fight the next battles for human rights and democracy across the planet. We are strong, but easily influenced. Please be informed of what’s going on at the University of Akron, as well as the country and even the rest of the world. The youth do have power, and we need to use it to enact positive change.