December 16, 2019

In a world wrought with challenge and change, the adults seem to be bickering back and forth or stubbornly standing still. Let’s turn our attention to the future leaders who, instead of waiting for their moment to arrive, have decided to start leading right now. Their voices are respected and powerful, and they’re showing that leadership can start young and be significant.

The university students in Hong Kong who are pushing back against the Chinese government.

Since 1997 when Britain gave the colony of Hong Kong back to China, Hong Kong has been allowed to operate under its own leadership with more liberties than allowed in mainland China. As China currently pushes for more control in Hong Kong, university students and other Generation Z citizens are protesting, pushing back against communism and demanding the democracy they believe in – freedom of speech, right to free assembly, unrestricted internet access and other human rights.

The student activists and survivors of the Parkland, FL high school mass shooting.

The survivors leapt into action, forming the organization, March for Our Lives.  Its mission is “to harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives,” and it now has hundreds of chapters around the country led by students who enact change on the local level. In 2019, the group released a plan and call-to-action – the Peace Plan for a Safer America. The Peace Plan makes recommendations to end mass shootings and outlines steps needed to combat mass gun violence in America’s communities. March of Our Lives co-founder David Hogg says, “For too long we have looked to elected officials to solve America’s gun violence crisis… Their failure to do their jobs has had deadly consequences. It is now time for real change and real action.”

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

In true lead-by-example form, Thunberg traveled across the Atlantic in a zero-emission sailboat to arrive in the US for her presentation to Congress in Washington and the UN Climate Action Summit in NY.  In addition to her Time magazine nod, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement,” says Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal in an interview with NBC News. “She embodies youth activism,” and “represents a broader generational shift in the culture… young people are demanding change, and urgently.”

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It is exhilarating to see that the next generation of leaders is speaking its truth.