Youthful passion can change the world

Published 8:23 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When young people speak, who listens?

On Friday, a group of ninth graders from Beaufort County Early College High School will host a community-wide event at the N.C. Estuarium. Coinciding with Earth Day weekend, this event seeks to raise awareness of an issue all too prevalent in Beaufort County: littering.

Featured during this event will be a group of young speakers sharing information about the issue of littering in our area, as well as ways that the community can be more involved to address the issue.

As adults, it is all too easy to discount teenage voices. This was made abundantly clear in the negative generalizations attached to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors as they spoke in the national media:

“They’re entitled.”

“They’re self-absorbed.”

“They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“They eat laundry detergent for fun.”

Here’s something to consider: teenagers, many of whom are just starting to find their place in the world, are seeing that world through a different lens than we do as adults. In our age and wisdom, many of us have settled into a complacent acceptance of what is. Teenage idealism can still see what might be.

This group of ninth graders serves as a prime example. The issue of littering is one that people of all ages in our community can rally around. To see these young people exercising their First Amendment rights, drawing attention to an important community issue, helps dispel the stereotype of the apathetic teenager staring listlessly at their phone screen.

Perhaps the late David Bowie put it best in his hit song “Changes.”

“These children that you spit on,
as they try to change their worlds,
are immune to your consultations,
they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

For the more Biblically inclined, consider this verse:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

These young people have something important to say. If we take the time to listen, we might just learn something.