THE YOUNG PEOPLE TAKING BACK DEMOCRACY

By EMILY MACINTOSH, EEB

What does democracy mean to you?

Democracy means everyone gets a say, no matter gender, race or social class everyone gets a say in how their country is run.

What do you think are the main societal challenges facing young people today?

Climate change. Climate change is the biggest problem for our generation, something we didn’t start but we are left to fix, we need to change what we do and how we live to tackle this as a generation.

What makes you hopeful for the future?

How determined our generation is. Millions of young people took to the streets for a climate action protest, imagine what we can do when we are the ones running our countries. We need our will power and determination more than ever.

 

Georgiana Teslaru, Ireland

What does democracy mean to you?

To me, democracy is a government obeying to the Constitution and letting citizens decide for themselves and make their own decisions, whether they’re sensible or not. Democracy means having freedom, while still complying with the law. It means equality towards gender and sexuality. It is a place where everyone has a voice for change and where all opinions are valued. However, our society, at times, stops people from being heard and expressing their own opinions. Democracy allows citizens be who they want to be, so why are millions of people still terrorised and ashamed of who they are? It is still a human right to have the freedom of expression, thought democracy, but most importantly the right to a fair and free world.

What do you think are the main societal challenges facing young people today?

Today’s society is affected by many problems, however our generation is greatly impacted by the effects of climate change. Young people are threatened by it and it is truly heartbreaking witnessing the amount of people that still find it difficult to believe that climate change will be our downfall. It doesn’t matter how many different properties we own, in all these fancy and aesthetic places, as at the end of the day, we only have one home and that is our amazing and beautiful Earth. It is our responsibility to keep it clean and safe, not only for us, but for all other “roommates” in which we share Earth with. Everyday, we destroy our home a little bit more, but together, small step by small step, we can change a future that is otherwise extremely obvious. The first real problem our society is facing is this sense of oblivion, where we just choose to ignore problems that are right in front of us and live in this enormous lie and denial. It is my goal, to let as many people as possible know the overwhelming effects of global warming and the easy steps to make a real change.

What makes you hopeful for the future?

In a world full of problems, there are always people willing to fight for our rights and that is why, I believe that we will make the real and significant change. Last March, millions of young people in 123 countries striked against climate change. Strike 4 Climate is an initiative taken by a girl my age, Greta Thunberg, and it just shows that if one person, inspired 123 countries to strike, can we just imagine what impact would have if more people were willing to help Earth recover from the great mistakes past generations made? We have 11 years to act before it is too late, but I believe in us. History taught us that us humans, we have this amazing ability to recover from our own mistakes, and we can and have to recover from this one. Countries are starting to ban single use plastic and others are starting to build houses with the plastic waste. These actions, give me hope that one day the problems we are facing today will only be something that future kids will have to learn in history lessons, and not something they will have to actually face.

 

Giannis Sfakianakis, 22, Greece

What does democracy mean to you?

As a Greek, democracy (demos+crato) means a lot to me. It means that people (demos) hold the power (crato) to express what they want, to shape the society how they envision it and to be the voice, not just the echo.

What do you think are the main societal challenges facing young people today?

Today, we live in a world that is getting more connected than ever before. Yet, at the same time we feel more and more disconnected from others. What I see as a challenge is how young people, first of all understand who they are, what values drive them and further on how they can stay loyal to them.

What makes you hopeful for the future?

As the world is becoming smaller and smaller every day, it is easier for young people like me to find more opportunities. Through this, we can get to know more of the beautiful continent we live in, learn, become wiser and implement all this new knowledge back home.

 

Martha Carey, Ireland

What does democracy mean to you?

Democracy to me means voting equality among citizens. It means that the inhabitants of a country can all make a shared decision in who represents and leads the community. It not only creates a feeling of equality among the people but encourages political candidates to work harder and improve conditions to secure votes leading, overall, to a better society. I have grown up in a place where democracy is normal and widely accepted however some children are not so lucky and are subjected to the views and actions of rulers who don’t represent their best interests. Democracy is all about fairness and doing what is best for the community at large. Without it, only the most powerful and loudest views are heard.

What do you think are the main societal challenges facing young people today?

I think the main societal challenge that young people face today is climate change and everything which threatens to come with that. Rising sea levels, decreased food security and extreme weather are only a few of the problems that we will face in the coming years and solving them will be the greatest challenge of our generation. We will have to drastically change the way that we navigate daily life from our consumption of unsustainable foods to our production of greenhouse gases. These changes will have to take place quickly and be widespread to repair or prevent the damage which has already been done and this I believe is our greatest societal challenge.

What makes you hopeful for the future?

What gives me hope for the future is that, around the world, young people are showing that they care about the future of the planet. The Friday school climate strikes and protests worldwide show a coming together of young people against the current mode of operation and signifies that we not only want change but need it. Seeing young people from around the world coming together to demand that something be done to protect our shared climate is truly inspiring and to me sparks immense hope.

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