Andrea de la Cruz reflects on “Questions of Courage”, the North American Youth Section’s conference that took place last August in Spring Valley, NY.
In 1924, Rudolf Steiner urged the youth of his time to be courageous and “stick together with iron will”. Almost 100 years later, these words still resonate with the youth of today, as we strive to find ways to navigate – individually and collectively – the uncertainties and challenges of our present times. This past summer in Spring Valley (NY), the conference “Questions of Courage” was an example of this striving. Over 100 young people, mainly from the US but also from other parts of the world (Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Spain), gathered together to explore peace, relationships, society, art, self-development and the future. At the heart of the conference: an impulse to master the art of being courageous to ask the right questions.
This I believe, is one of the most promising activities we can engage with as human beings today and one of the most healing acts we can perform for our current world situation. Why? Because something magical happens when we allow ourselves the time and space to delve within ourselves and find that question stirring within us; sometimes restless, sometimes unnoticed, almost always unavoidable. Something even more powerful occurs when we meet another human being who also carries their question with such intensity, that they spark in us a burning need to set out on the adventure of seeking our own answers. The questions might differ, perhaps the answers too, but the quest is the same. In the quest we are united.
It is dealing with meaningful questions that allows us to fully come together in an era where everything, we are told, is already answered. For in the answers we may already differ and be far from each other; but in the sharing of our innermost queries and reflections, we often find the starting point of a journey to be shared with each other in fraternity. As a young Filipino woman once told the Youth Section research team “we live in the era of information, but we should move towards living in the age of understanding”. The dialogue that ignites between young people when questions like “who am I?” “what does it mean to be human?” or “can I be fully free?” are shared, opens up doors to new possibilities never expected before; to understanding aspects of our reality that before seemed far from explicable.
In our research study “The Spiritual Striving of Youth: Shaping our Reality”, we have been observing for the past two years how, out of an invitation to engage with powerful questions, one is able to tap into a space of profound wisdom that lives within young people. A wide pool of knowledge that is ready, and yet awaiting, to be taken into considerati
on by others in order to transform our world. “Questions of Courage” was to me another example of Youth Section work in action. A team of young people, sticking together through the challenges that arise out of creating something together out of free will, in order to generate a meaningful space for all of our questions to be held, for genuine human encounters to take place and, out of these, our future reality.
Andrea de la Cruz