Revolutions are guided by a drive and passion for change, both are present in our youth so a revolution is coming, writes The Justice Desk chief operations officer Kayla Brittan.
Our present has this unwavering ability to cloud our hope for the future. We are facing injustice at every corner, witnessing the outpouring of years and years of oppressed thoughts and experiences that are falling on ignorant ears who continue to pave out a path that only seems to guide us backwards.
Voices are being silenced, skin colour is branded as a label that reads “less than”, women have wars waged on their bodies and children are being left behind.
One cannot help but be tempted to buy-in to the messaging of generations before us who whispered in our ears that change is not possible. My opinions about and dreams for the future have been undermined, torn apart and deemed to be childlike.
The apparent Utopian lens I wish to see the world through is far from the default our society finds itself in. But what if I told you, my dream is simply this: a society where everyone’s human rights are realised?
Read all News24’s Youth Day essays here.
I refuse to believe that this is impossible, not because I do not see the sheer level of work that needs to be done, but rather because every person who has ever told me or the incredible people I work alongside that it cannot be done gives the same answer to the same question. The question is, have you tried? and the answer is always no.
The work of The Justice Desk
I work for an organisation that has changed my perception of this world. I went from being uncertain that change could ever happen to witnessing it on a daily basis.
The Justice Desk is a human rights organisation based in Cape Town that believes in a unique approach to achieve justice and equality and that is through the promotion of everyday activism. Simply believing in the power of the everyday person and encouraging all of us to get involved in the pursuit of justice makes the impossible possible, in fact, it makes it achievable.
Our everyday beliefs, actions and thoughts vote for the future we want to be a part of. The moment we start to realise this and recognise the power we hold the closer we will come to achieving the utopian future we dream of.
It may take one hundred years for us to make this change, but if we start one hundred years from now it will take two hundred years, so we must start now. We cannot keep waiting for the right time, the only right time is now!
There are days when I think it cannot be done. There are days when I think, maybe it would be easier if I gave up and you know what? It probably would be easier, but at what cost?
I will never forget a day, many years ago where I had lost hope for our future. I had been inundated with bad news and stories of human cruelty and human rights violations and felt like there was no way to tackle this or get to dry land without drowning.
The lesson I learnt
That same day I was visiting an early childhood development centre while training was taking place with the parents and I had to sit with the children. It was a sunny day and all of the children were playing until one child started screaming because she had found a bug and was afraid.
Two different reactions happened. One group of children ran away and the other group started throwing things and trying to hurt it. Both of these were fear responses, but in that moment I remember being frustrated and thinking: “This, this is what happens in society. When people do not understand something or are afraid they either run from it or try to hurt it.” I had a very negative perception that day of human nature.
I calmed the children down, grabbed a leaf and picked up the bug and moved it far away from the children. I sat down, frustrated until I was confronted with a powerful lesson.
Read all News24’s Youth Day essays here.
A few minutes later, I saw something unexpected. A group of children found another bug, instead of screaming, running or trying to hurt it; they stopped picked up leaves and gently tried to move the bug away. This was it, this was the lesson or reminder I needed. It does not always have to be grand gestures or demonstrations, sometimes it takes one person to show you that there is another way to handle a situation, another way of moving through this life.
Change is possible
This may seem like a simple story, but it is one that keeps me going and gives me hope for the future. Since that day, five years ago, I have seen countless people stand up, take a different (positive) path and encourage others to join. Change is imminent, change is possible but sometimes it takes one small step in the right direction.
I now have the opportunity and honour of working with children and youth from a diverse range of backgrounds with one common thread, a desire for positive social change. Revolutions are guided by a drive and passion for change, both are present in our youth so a revolution is coming!
For as long as it is necessary;
We will speak out,
We will hand over memorandums,
We will march,
We will create platforms for those whose voices have been silenced;
We will continue to support one another
We will build a new path, one that is not built on fear, prejudice or greed,
We will not stop until our country; our world is a place where the human rights of all are realised.
Those who are paving paths that go nowhere and cage thoughts that can guide us forward, I pose this question: How can we expect children to walk in our footsteps when all we seem to be doing is walking backwards? Our future is in every one of our hands and for this reason I hope more young people hold onto the dreams they were told to let go of.
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