A young friend of mine recently told me of a competition he was entering. Young people from Victoria schools were asked to make a five-minute pitch video to tell how they would solve one societal problem: global warming, homelessness, the opioid crisis, saving old-growth forests.
The winners would receive prizes including a $10,000 in scholarships to be presented by Elizabeth May. I watched with interest my friend’s team’s offering about how to save the old-growth, and then I watched the judging and the presentations at UVic. The solutions the students were asked to come up with had to be doable. The judges and those presenting awards lauded the students for being the future, and for taking responsibility for how these problems would be solved.
I found myself wishing I could have made a presentation. Mine would say, “How about we adults start acting like we have a climate emergency. Stop selling coal for other countries to burn, stop building a pipeline to provide more fossil fuels for burning. Stop looking to 12-year-olds and young teenagers for answers. We have the power. They don’t even have a vote. Put in a government that will take these issues seriously. Don’t abdicate your power. My generation and my parents created these conditions. How dare we hand them off to the children for a year’s membership in Wild Play.”
The organizers were well meaning. But their efforts are misplaced. Instead of burdening children with finding solutions, work on inspiring adults to step up with real solutions. Figure it out! The effects of their strategy might not be what they hoped. My young friend’s conclusion after it was all over was to say this: “There probably won’t be any future.”