A new generation is coming of age upon the world’s stage, and as we awaken to the emerging realities of the 21st century—to global threats of terrorism and planet-wide ecological destruction, to overpopulation and rapidly depleting natural resources, to an unstable world economy and a civilization as a whole that is rapidly heading towards collapse—we are finding that we have been born into the most critical moment in all of human history. As we look deep into the heart of the global situation that surrounds us, we know that we are the ‘make-it or break-it’ generation, the ‘all-or-nothing’ generation, the crucible through which civilization must pass or crash.
While today’s global crisis is a source of tremendous apathy and despair, it is also serving as the catalyst for a massive planetary shift, and nowhere can this transformation be seen more powerfully than among the awakening youth of our new century. The extraordinary challenges we face are rallying us to lives of meaning and action, inspiring us with a purpose and passion, and raising our generation to a new global consciousness of connectedness and change.
A Global Generation
All across the world we are waking up, answering the urgent call of our time, and connecting our unique gifts with the healing and renewal of life on Earth. We are the conscious-alive, planetary-active, spiritually-awake members of a new global generation. From across borders and continents, spanning oceans and time-zones, bridging languages and cultures, we are the largest and most diverse generation ever to be born, and we are coming together to create an unprecedented movement for whole-systems planetary change.
Every generation has a common purpose and a unique destiny. As each generation awakens to the realities that they have been born into they are called to respond to the demands of their time. Extraordinary times call forth extraordinary generations. As we receive our global inheritance and find that life on Earth itself is hanging in the balance, we know that if we are to survive we will become one of History’s most remembered and celebrated generations.
Born and raised in the digital age, surfing the World Wide Web and chatting with youth from across the planet, we are the first generation that can truly call itself global. Our revolutionary communication technologies are creating a growing community of active and engaged global citizens. Leading global youth organizations such as the Global Youth Action Network, TakingITGlobal, and Global Youth Connect are pioneering the planetary pathways and virtual community spaces that are connecting young people locally, nationally, and internationally, and these global connections are creating the twenty-first century movements for positive social change.
Along with our virtual movements of networking and mobilizing, the emergence of rapid and affordable ways to travel has created an explosion of international youth gatherings. From all corners of the planet we are coming together to engage in creative thinking and movement-building to solve our world’s most entrenched problems. As we cross national borders and develop close international partnerships, youth-led efforts and innovative solutions are springing to life to address our most urgent challenges—cleaning up and protecting our planet’s eco-systems, fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, harnessing the global economic system to social justice, protecting women’s, children’s, and indigenous people’s rights, reinvigorating a sense of meaning and values into the heart of our modern cultures, and establishing the sustainable foundations of a vital world democracy.
A Revolutionary New Consciousness
At the leading edge of our generation is a revolutionary new consciousness arising from the convergence of our deepest spiritual wisdom and cutting-edge scientific discoveries. We are waking up to a breathtaking new cosmological vision revealing that Life is an unfolding evolutionary process of increasing complexity, creativity, and consciousness. Wherein the past humans imagined that the world was born in one miraculous instance of creation, today we understand that Creation is a living and dynamic process that travels through the trail of Time, one that thus far has a 13 billion year history stretching from the Big Bang to our emerging 21st century Global Mind.
As we begin to fully comprehend this incredible new Story of Life and our human place within it, we are confronting the inescapable fact that we live in a participatory Universe, one that demands our active and conscious participation in bringing forth a positive future for all. Never before has a generation had such a clear and compelling vision of where we have come from and where we are going. As large numbers of our generation grasp onto this Big Picture of Life and are transformed by the greatest Story of all Time, we are being filled with a newfound passion for action and world-engagement.
At the center of our new consciousness of connectedness and change is a dynamic form of transformational activism. We are taking up our world’s two most urgent needs—spirituality and social change—fusing them together, and unleashing a powerful pathway to personal and planetary transformation. As a groundswell of global spirituality merges with the globalization of our social change movements, our generation is taking to the global streets, souls on fire and hearts ablaze, and the explosive force of spiritual activism is leading the way.
History’s greatest peacemakers and social change agents have been spiritual activists. Both Gandhi and Martin Luther King—the towering giants of social change—recognized that real change must take place without and within. Today’s global youth are following in their footsteps, connecting everyday spiritual life practices with positive actions of social change. We are growing our souls, cultivating our spirit, and fortifying our life-energy with every conscious breath. We are marching through the streets, speaking truth to power, and transforming our world through community service projects that help those in need. As the active members of our generation spiritually awaken and the spiritually awake members actively engage, a revolutionary new wave of global transformation is coming of age.
A Whole-Systems Change Agenda
The crisis we face today is system-wide and spans the globe, a situation that demands we address it in all its complexity and as an integral whole. One of the major problems with our world’s social change movements is that they are fragmented and disconnected, limited in their strategy and approach, and lacking a vision of the whole that can unify our efforts and lead the way forward. As our generation recognizes that partial and piecemeal approaches to creating change will work no more, integrated and collaborative strategies that transform the whole-system are advancing to the fore.
Inspired by our new systems thinking and integral vision of Life, the twenty-first century is giving way to a comprehensive movement-strategy of “whole-systems change,” one that seeks to transform the world on multiple fronts simultaneously—individually and collectively, culturally and structurally. Where before our social change approaches were short-term and issue-specific, today they are increasingly long-term, multi-pronged, and system-wide. As our peace movements, social justice movements, environmental movements, political movements, and spiritual consciousness movements begin to recognize that our goals can only be accomplished by working together, we are joining forces within a broad and unnameable Movement for whole-systems planetary change.
Coming of Age in the Kosmos
No generation can choose the historical moment that they are born into, but every generation has the opportunity to find its higher calling and to fulfill its ultimate destiny. Just as each individual must embark upon a quest to discover the deeper purpose of their life, so too must a generation. Our generation’s quest today entails a courageous journey into the heart of our global crisis, awakening our species to the life-giving nature of our epoch transition, and setting human civilization on a course for peace, justice, and global sustainability.
The twenty-first century is arguably the most powerful time ever for a young person to come of age on this planet. Not only are we waking up and coming of age as individuals, not only are we waking up and coming of age as a new generation, we are waking up and coming of age as a human species. We are a generation of a three-fold initiation, youth of a triple awakening.
Never has there been a generational rite of passage as our world’s youth face today. Throughout human history, generations were unconsciously initiated by the demands of their life-circumstances and world events. Today we are the first generation with the potential to consciously initiate ourselves. As we awaken to our selves, to our societies, to Spirit, and to the great Earth community that we are all a part of, we are consciously maturing as individuals, as a generation, and as a human species. Wisdom is coming of age in the kosmos. History will forever remember that just when the very survival of our planet found itself at stake, there came a new generation—conscious and alive, global and awake.
Joshua Gorman is a student, writer, and global youth activist living in Washington, DC where he is completing a degree called ‘Global Youth and Social Change.’ He is actively involved with youth projects locally, nationally, and internationally. His largest project is a book entitled Generation Waking Up that will also be the name of a global youth organization launching in 2008. He can be reached at joshua (at) generationwakingup.org
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