The youth of America, in large numbers, have said enough is enough. Their courage, triggered by the horrific slaughter of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has inspired scores of young people in cities and towns across the world to join their movement and amplify their fearless plea: “Enough is enough!”
Some may view the youth-led marches in the United States and major cities across the globe—startling in their size, sophistication and diversity—as nothing more than the cries of frustrated youth venting and channeling pent up energy. Such a view would be shortsighted and, I believe, wrong. These valiant young people are a sign of the age we live in—a sign of an impending change that will sweep away the old vanguard, the old systems of governance largely financed and held in place by insular special interests and a distorted view of humanity that is not aligned with the spirit of this age.
It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity. … 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. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 19-20.
The spirit of this age is calling for unity at every level of human society. That call goes out every day from the mouths of our precious youth who remind us, in seemingly insignificant ways, that the gift of life is precious beyond description and that the hour has now come for all the peoples of the world to work together to bring about the sweeping changes that are needed to safeguard our collective future. At the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., attended by hundreds of thousands, one young speaker said “thoughts and prayers are not enough.” I wholeheartedly agree. We also need decisive actions that promote the cause of peace, safety and prosperity for all human beings.
The youth of this age have grown tired of hollow political rhetoric; they have lost faith in our venerable institutions of governance. As young as they are, they perceive frightening immaturity in the way partisan politics is conducted and increasingly sense that they must take control of the reins of human affairs in order to bring about the change they seek.
Today the world is facing a “tsunami” of organized, global youth activism the likes of which we have never seen before. In my opinion it is the youth—not the political leaders in high places—who will rescue this age from its slide into complete chaos.
O ye illumined youth, strive by night and by day to unravel the mysteries of the mind and spirit, and to grasp the secrets of the Day of God. Inform yourselves of the evidences that the Most Great Name hath dawned. Open your lips in praise. Adduce convincing arguments and proofs. Lead those who thirst to the fountain of life; grant ye true health to the ailing. Be ye apprentices of God; be ye physicians directed by God, and heal ye the sick among humankind. Bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends. Make the despairing to be filled with hope. Waken them that slumber; make the heedless mindful. – Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in A Compilation on Youth.
Freed from the shackles of the past, young people in communities around the world will lead us into a future characterized by unity, prosperity and safety for all peoples. These youth will not be silenced for they have grown up in a technological age in which their blended voices can be easily amplified and shared with the world. They will band together, across geographical boundaries and every perceived ethnic or religious barrier, to promote causes that are dear to their hearts.
It is encouraging to witness the solidarity, vision and courage demonstrated by the youth who participated in the March For Our Lives. As adults, if we are perceptive, we will recognize that these young people are not only marching to change gun laws in the United States; at the core of their plea is a desire to create a new world where the dispossessed and the downtrodden are protected and treated with dignity. We ought to support these youth and champion their just causes—not passively, but actively, as fellow co-workers seeking a better world.
The involvement of youth is not something to be sought for [their] sake alone, nor a tool designed to advance [their] needs as a specific population group. Rather, it is a component critical to the well-being of all of humankind, young and old alike. – The Baha’i International Community, statement titled: Builders of Civilization: Youth and the Advancement of
Humankind, contributed to the 2014 World Conference on Youth.