All across the planet a new generation is waking up. We are the middle children of history, coming of age at the crossroads of civilization, a generation rising between an Old World dying and a New World being born. We are the “make-it-or-break-it” generation, the “all-or-nothing” generation, the crucible through which civilization must pass or crash. GenerationWakingUp.org
What you are doing by publishing this book is asking us and getting us heard. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan
Your questions inspire me and they make me think more about consciousness and life. Kazu, 17, m, Indonesia
Human future is precarious due to our self-centeredness and shortsightedness. This book explores what’s on the mind of young people from 74 countries to look into our future. Their numbers and youthful desire to challenge the status quo with electronic networking gives them power. It’s likely youths will continue to be the ones who cause upheaval as they did in the 1960s in the West and as they are doing in the Middle East now. Are they retaining traditional values or do they accept the environmentally destructive consumer advertisements that buying things brings happiness? With global media, expectations for acquiring things like cell phones and TVs are rising.
Young people want to be heard; this book is a forum for the insights of the largest youth generation in history—1.5 billion ages 10 to 24, given various names such as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y. Younger kids are called Gen Z. Globally, one person in five is ages 10 to 19, adding up to 1.3 billion. Half are poor and one fourth live on less than $1 a day.[i] The period between childhood and adulthood is expanding as “tweens” are stimulated to act like teens, youth enter biological adolescence earlier, spend more time in school and delay job seeking and marriage.[ii] The United Nations defines youth as ages 15 to 24; I surveyed and interviewed young people younger than 20, with exceptions like college students in Egypt’s Tahrir Square.
The questions I set out to answer were:
How will global youth transform our future?
What are the regional and class differences?
Is there a global youth culture?
Is there a generation gap?
Are traditional values being eroded, including established religions?
What is the impact of globalization and consumerism?
Are there gender differences in viewpoints?
How is youth activism different from older generations? How were youth able to dethrone Mubarak in 18 days?
[ii] The UN defines youth as ages 15 to 24. Adolescence includes ages 10 to 19.
Photo of the author in Tahrir Square, Egypt