This post is part of a series for the Youth Media Blog-a-Thon on the topic of “regime change.”The year 2008 taught American youth that change was something we could believe in, but is it something we can still define? The word change gained popularity quickly, and like anything else, lost its grounding. While change had the ability to cross racial and generational lines, it did so like a chameleon, shifting forms and definitions to fit the situation. Every American had their own ideas as to what the “new America” would look like and as to what Obama could do for their community. Change grew to be a nebulous cloud filled with hype, hope, and determination that engulfed the country and eventually the White House.
Even with these affective results, I think we need to bring change back to its roots. We’ve been using change as a noun, “the replacing of one thing for another–substitution”, but perhaps we should see it as a verb, “to cause to be different.” Change as a verb isn’t as popular for the sole fact that it needs an actor: a person to assume responsibility for initiating and sustaining its course.
It’s my belief that American youth should not only assume responsibility, but are already on the path for, adopting change (v). In this age of information, majorities of us are well-informed on various issues and will “spread the word” to others. Yet, we can’t let dissemination and self-education become our sole definitions of activism, and our only attempts at change (n). The time has come for our generation to make a difference and play a physical role in reshaping our country starting with our communities.
When JFK first made the case for national service with his famous inaugural speech,
he asked Americans what they could do for their country. Nearly fifty
years later, President Obama asks us what we can do for our community,
and has set a striking example with his history of community service on
the south side of Chicago. His emphasis on local volunteerism remains
strong, as evidenced by
his day of service only 24 hours before his inauguration. This
dedication to community activism has informed his proposed policies.
During his presidency, Obama plans to set a goal for all middle and
high school students to complete a minimum of 50 hours of community
service a year, along with investing in the non-profit sector and
these are only mediums for participation, blank canvases upon which to
draw our own portraits of change that satisfy the specific needs of our
individual communities. While there are calls to action that urge
international activism, I would encourage the American youth to first
assess the needs of their own communities before looking abroad. Our
current economic crisis triggered by neighborhood home foreclosures is
an example of how failure in our own communities has global effects.
While the individual can’t prevent a mortgage crisis, s/he can help
promote the economic and environmental health
of his or her community, enriching the lives of its citizens. We’ve
entered an era where individuals can be empowered by the government to
revitalize our country. It’s up to us to initiate, collaborate, and
organize real change on a local level.
So when asked what I think President Obama will do for our communities, my response is as much as WE can.
And, yes, we definitely can.
–Bethany for My Wonderful World