There is something to be said about listening. So often throughout our lives we spend our time talking, arguing and never really listening. It is very rare that one is more open to listening then to speaking. To listen, one must pay attention, invest time in analyzing the meaning, deciphering the tone and then applying that information to ourselves. That is an act that is dying. Dwindling as we grow far too comfortable in our circles. As we only listen to what we want to hear, rather than what we need to. The overwhelming fear of listening to something you think you disagree with or hate, and instead agreeing with it, is real and is the danger that is beginning to manifest. The power of having any and everything you wish to know at your fingertips is both a blessing and a curse. We are creature of habits. We wish to only to be affirmed in our perspectives and points-of-view. That danger is imminent.
Simultaneously, our society is progressing. In many ways, the access to information that is within arm’s reach, in every room, on everyone’s desk, in everyone’s hand is causing this shift. The traditions and conventions of the past are continually being challenged, as those not always heard now have a platform for their voice. And it echoes.
The Future of the American Dream, a youth-led, youth focused conversation about what the new American Dream, the future of the American identity.
It is truly beautiful to see your work come to fruition. From meetings during this past summer, to countless texts, frantic back and forth, solidifying a date and getting youth to come, came this anomaly.
A room full of youth. Speaking frankly about their experiences in America. Reflecting on what their future holds as young Americans. The privilege and reality of the flaws of American. Issues that seem so individual, became universal. A commonwealth of youth voice was established. Open and honest firsthand experiences abroad, that reminded us of every nuanced truth of being an American citizen. The critical opinion on the gun epidemic, from hopeful American citizens. A fifth-grade, Dutch reminder of our limited liberalism and selective progressiveness. A young girl’s realization of the ease not having to walk miles to gain water and the sacrifices her parents made so she would not have to. The vulgar use of the n-word, to jar memories of what our true place is. The uncomfortable family reunions that are as divided as they have ever been.
Through every good and bad memory, every personal opinion and universal fact there remained conversation. Perspectives were broadened. Connections were made and ideas were challenged in a way that preserved the beauty of America-- to have a room composed of a refugee of The youth experience was no longer singular, no longer silenced, but presented to ears that have an opportunity to normalize this. That was Think Out Loud’s, The Future of the American Dream. That was the power of speaking. No, of listening. The power of collaboration and the power of the American identity.
Thank you to every person who came. Thank you the producers and hosts of Think Out Loud. Thank you to OPB. Thank you to all my friends. Thank you to friends who told friends. Thank you to Heads of Catlin and De La Salle. Thank you to the guy who was standing outside the door and was willing to come in. Thank you to the panelists, who some stepped outside of their comfort zones and for some renewed theirs. Thank you America, without you none of this could have happened.
All the best,