When I speak about the problems of global injustice to high school classes or youth groups, I see awesome things happen. For one thing, the kids lock in. Especially the kids that you think would not be paying attention. When you’re talking about modern slavery, they just literally stare at you. They’re not causing a scene, they’re not talking, they’re not in the back giggling. Usually in a group of adolescents, most of them will pay attention for about 20 minutes. But after about 20 minutes they’re like, okay, what’s next? But you can speak for an hour about issues of injustice and human rights, and you can literally hear a pin drop. It’s amazing.
Some of the kids come up to me afterward asking, “What do we do?” They’re so ready to act, but it’s new to them, and they say, “I don’t know what to do!” But they figure out a way to get it done. I think this young generation is so intensely focused by this because I think they finally say, “Wait a minute! I do have a voice!”
They’re so used to being told they don’t have a voice. Every social or political movement that comes along, every opportunity to get their voice out there, they try to speak up, but people tell them to hush, that they don’t understand. They’re told they’re not old enough, they’re told they don’t have enough experience. They’re told, “You’re young. You don’t know anything.” On every important issue that comes up, even when a young person tries to speak up, they get shut down. They get told, “You don’t have any idea of the world, so you don’t have a voice in this.”
But when they learn about global poverty, hunger, and slavery, they talk back. With this problem, they stand up and they say, “No! You obviously don’t understand. This is my generation getting killed off. This is my generation getting sold off. This is my generation’s voice that’s getting muffled and sold and killed. I do have a voice in this. I do have the right to speak my mind on this.”
Mike King sent me pictures from Kansas City of a Feed the Hunger campaign not too long ago, and there were thousands and thousands of young kids that were putting food in boxes to send to Haiti after the earthquake. All the way around, this whole issue, this whole injustice issue is reaching deep into the souls of young people. It’s tugging at them. And I am really, really excited to see what it does.