When did things begin to shift? When we look around us as young people wanting to understand our present times, we cannot help but draw our attention to the years 2018 and 2019, when a kind of restlessness began to arise amongst youth on a global scale. In 2019 the Friday’s for Future Movement was one of the clearest expressions of the tension experienced by the younger generations; in our own project (Re)Search, young people were telling us how they felt that they had to be prepared and awake for what might come to them from the future; and in April of that same year, more than 600 young people came together at the Goetheanum’s International Students’ Conference to find in the theme of Courage an anchor to deal with the happenings around and within themselves.
A Turning Point in Time
2019 marked a turning point in time for young people around the world, whose voices began to take centre-stage in global events, perhaps even for the first time in history, becoming protagonists with powerful voices and not only spectators of the larger world drama. And even if many could not identify with the dominant-popular ways of expressing unrest, it was clear that there was a universal deeper longing that lived within the younger generations, sensing that things were reaching a tipping point and that all of us would have to play a part.
Within the Youth Section, a question began to arise: regardless of individual standpoint, whichever challenge one might be experiencing in one’s own biographical journey – what can be grounding for those who sense this need for being awake and prepared? The answer came from the ISC preparation group, who chose Courage to be the key theme for young people in 2019. Through Courage, one can experience an expression of one’s own agency because to be courageous in the face of such challenges means to assert that “I”, that “we” are present in world events as participants who co-shape reality.
Living with Uncertainty
And yet, what we have learned in the past years and especially since the Covid-19-19 crisis, is that what takes real courage is to learn to live with uncertainty, with questions that might not be answered in one’s own lifetime. How can one remain afloat in the sea of the unknown? How can one still strive for ideals like truth, goodness, or freedom when one’s own ground is shaken on a daily basis? Uncertainty awakens us to the realisation that we need to ground ourselves in something deeper than what external events offer us; that we need to learn out of experiences that one can —at any given moment— develop actions out of knowledge of ourselves and the world in becoming.
And thus, from the realisation of courage to deal with uncertainty, trust arises – trust in the potential that human beings can again and again “renew the life of the world from its foundations up”.
Trust is a fundamental gift that we all get at the beginning of life, it’s our task to give it forward. This is the task of any young generation but especially of ours today: to not lose on the way the Trust that binds society together through each human encounter in its plurality – the trust to be together in our differences, in our own unique potential to unfold individual deeds that shape our own biographies and history. Trust to not ‘judge away’ the otherness but to embrace its essential difference.
The Youth Section
The Youth Section at the Goetheanum grounds itself on ideals that support the unfolding of a future where an ethical life based on individual human freedom is possible. The very essence of the Youth Section work is, therefore, to foster spaces where participants are not forced to swing from standpoint to standpoint but to foster essential experiences such as those of courage and trust in the potential of each human being to unfold their own destiny in freedom and to find their place in the world. To achieve this, the Youth Section creates all kinds of activities and spaces in which to practice courage, trust, and agency.
The International Students’ Conference, which gives complete autonomy to young people aged 15 to 21 to envision, shape, and deliver the events for peers from all over the world, is an example of practising what we, as young people, find worth practising today. Activities like the ISC allow us to become agents of our own learning whilst fostering experiences of encounter with the diversity of each other person participating in the events. Thus, we do not only find an opportunity to ground ourselves in our own identities but to use these as springboards that allows us to go beyond ourselves and meet others “I” – to – “I”.
That Good Might Become
In cooperating and collaborating to make conferences like the ISC possible, we meet others who bring unique skills that contribute to the creation of an event that later offers even more young people the possibility to continue co-creating. This is how the Youth Section’s activities translate into movement, a wave that expands beyond geographical location and time. The fact that the Youth Section’s team includes people at the beginning of their 20s and some in their 30s can lead in the future to inter-generational bonds. The way of addressing questions can be very different within the same generation, and carrying these questions together can be a great potential. In this case, the trust we place in one another is the foundation of our common work.
Whatever the challenges we encounter, we will shape our reality together as a common endeavour. Let us always be able to kindle in ourselves the courage to be together in our differences and plurality and to trust in the potential of each human being walking side by side on Earth, “so that good might become what we together from our hearts and heads will found”.