Youth Liberation

Youth in Seattle with a Freechild Project summer campYouth liberation seeks to free young people from the oppressive bondage of age, whether in the home, at the school, or throughout the community. All of this action seeks the elimination of adultism and age-based discrimination. The ideas behind youth liberation are taking hold in many communities around the world today.

There are a portion of youth advocates who believe all children and youth should be allowed to choose their own way all the time, and that this is equivalent to social justice.

That translates to allowing all young people in all schools, community centers, places of worship, and neighborhoods around the world to do whatever they wish, whenever they wish, wherever they wish, however they wish. Some people respond to that by saying, “Surely there is nobody who is really like that, right? No one believes all those things to that extreme!”
WIthout going to any extremes, youth liberation is real. However, in the complexly interwoven into a fabric of interdependence we all rely on, each of us relies on one another for our independence. As an aboriginal activst group in Australia in the 1970s came up with a motto describing this idea far better than I ever could:
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.”

 

Youth liberation can happen in several ways:

  • Liberation of Mind: Actively encouraging, engaging, empowering and allowing children and youth to think what they want, how they want, when they want and where they want;
  • Liberation of Place: Allowing young people of any ages to traverse society where they want, whether its for public, democratic reasons or private, personal reasons;
  • Liberation of Action: Empowering children and youth with the freedom of movement, freedom of motion and freedom of activities that adults are allowed within the constraints of the law;
  • Liberation of Spirit: Providing young people with the understandings, knowledge, ideas and abilities to be who they are, how they are no matter when they choose or where they are.

 

Youth liberation is not solely dependent on adults. Instead, freedom of mind and freedom of spirit supercede adult abilities. However, in our highly manipulative society, young people may have a challenging time breaking from of adult constraints to become their own people. However, it can be done, and for all children and youth, it must be done.

I believe the main station, duty, responsibility and right of young people is to learn, whether from each other, from adults, from culture or wherever. A privilege of youth is the ability to focus on the task of learning. With adults throughout society apparently hellbent on controlling the domains of liberation I mentioned above, its paramount that children and youth begin to reconceptualize their own roles throughout society and actively seek the liberation they deserve because they are young.

Compulsory, forced obligations we thrust upon young people today, like making them attend schools and participate in educational programs, violates the liberty of children and youth. That is nothing less than a failure of adults who have no idea how to make learning a fun, engaging and powerful experience that young people must be compelled to participate in because of their own will rather than that of adults. That said, young people have that responsibility to learn, to grow and to be themselves.

So it is a tricky path that currently offers me no clear resolution and few absolutes. However, I do believe that youth liberation as I’ve spelled it out here is an absolute necessity.

 

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