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Is it activism or is it cynicism and what does it matter?

Updated: May 13, 2023

If you are on a quest to find yourself or find your place in activism and/or politics then this particular blog post is for you. I have been reflecting on the importance of 'oneself' when partaking in any form of activism and by that I simply mean that I have been exploring the role of individuals within a collective form of any kind of activism. The reality is that there should be a place for everyone in any form of activism and it is important that no hierarchy of specific roles is created where those who perhaps lead a movement are considered 'more important' then those who prefer to stand at the back and support silently and can a certain style of leadership be considered to use activism as a vehicle for self interest? This is an important reflection in politics especially when we advocate for democratic interests that in theory aim to accommodate and represent everyone. Considering human nature and the inevitable need to 'self serve' perhaps self interest is not so bad but what is the cost?

At the centre of almost any research and discourse about young people and our engagement patterns often 'unpredictable and self serving' characteristics are always highlighted. We as the youth are not considered to act from a so called stable and sustainable place - one that is considered to serve us best in the long run. Young people 'politics' have often been considered to be highly dependent on political climate and not necessarily on fundamentals - is this how young people are characterised or characterise themselves or has the way we defined participation changed and evolved? Most importantly what role have the interests of set individuals played? Is there an incentive and if so how can those who are often at the forefront help pull those who are often overlooked 'closer'.

This is one of many things that I have been internally reflecting on during this 'quest to find more meaningful and sustainable ways' to foster youth participation and engagement. I don't have any of the answers yet and hoping to make my peace with whatever they may look like at the end of this process.



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