Artwork: Robert Rauschenberg [1925-2008)
Today we have witnessed the end run of one child, now young man, whose life has been defined and lived out in the historical path of how our society processes children outside of traditional supports. Paperwork/documents/reports/records fill many files.
Today he told us that he is now actually being listened to and heard as a person rather than the name on the pages of data that have recorded his journey:
“I am going to get a place of my own to live next week. They are finally talking to me … not just reading about me on the papers in my file.”
Thousands of young people who live in our country outside traditional supports for their growth and development share this story. Not all end as well.
Our society scramble to do our best for our children and youth fails to understand how critical it is for our children to learn how to be human. They have been controlled and managed and told they are broken and need to be fixed. Their transition into belonging in finding their own place in society is often disjointed and unsupported.
Their social workers weep for the impossibility of their task to offer adequate help to children and young people and families who struggle with the realities they face.
Governments keen on creating more jobs and paying off deficits easily define social spending as the most expendable aspect of their budgets. The fact that we are hurting the next generation is not a consideration in a short sighted world view.
It takes time to grow humans. Our humanity is key to our ability to sustain society.
Who will think smart enough to figure out how to resolve this major threat to our existence as people? How many dystopian movies will finally distort our sensibility to being unable to think deeply and pragmatically about our own reality as HUMANITY?
Who defines us? We are hopeful that our children and young people will bring new insight gained with the complexity of their lived experience in the world we have handed them. They will have experienced an enormous collection of ‘what does not work.’
WE owe our children and youth a new Social Contract. They need to be heard. Their recommendations may lead the generations that follow them forward to a kinder, healthier and more peaceful existence.