Need for young people to get involved in politics
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Dear Editor,

THERE is a greater need now more than ever to teach our young people the reasons why they should be involved in politics.

Twenty years ago, my family introduced a system called “Friday democracy meetings” and every Friday at 7:00 pm, we came together for an official meeting to discuss the current family affairs. One week, we talked about what food we wanted to eat, what time our children should go to bed and how to improve things as a family; while at another meeting, we discussed pretty much events that happened at school, and how to solve disputes between siblings, by which I mean real fights. At the end of each meeting, we’d reach decisions and agreements that would last at least until the next meeting.

What I just shared with you is a family story, but it’s pure politics. Every part of politics includes decision-making and ideally, the process of decision-making should include people from different backgrounds, interests, opinions, gender, beliefs, race, ethnicity, age and so on. Everyone in this process should have an equal opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process and influence the decisions that will affect their lives directly or indirectly.

I find it difficult to understand when I hear young people saying, “I’m too young to engage in politics or to even hold a political opinion”. Similarly, when I hear some women say, ‘ politics is a dirty world I don’t want to engage with”. As such, I’m worried that the idea of politics and political engagement has become so polarized in many parts of the world that ordinary people feel in order for them to participate in politics, they need to be outspoken activists, and that is not true.

I therefore want to ask these young people, women and ordinary people in general: can you really afford not to be interested or not to participate in politics? Politics is not only radical activism. Its awareness, it’s keeping us informed, it’s caring for the facts and when possible, it’s casting a vote. Politics is the tool through which we structure ourselves as groups and societies. Politics governs every aspect of life, and by not participating in it, you’re literally allowing other people to decide on what you can eat, wear, decide if you can have access to health care, free education, how much tax you pay, or what is your benefits when you can retire.

A lack of participation gives way to other people making critical decisions about our lives including deciding whether your race or ethnicity is the benchmark for considering you a criminal, or if your religion and nationality is enough to put you on a terrorist list. We need to teach people at an early age about decision-making and how to be part of it. Every family is its own mini political system that is usually not always democratic because most parents make decisions that affect all members of the family, while the children have very little to say. Similarly, politicians make decisions that affect the whole nation, while the people have very little say in them.

My proposal and advice is for everyone to try the family democracy meeting system because that will enable children a chance to exercise their agency and decision-making from a very early age. Including children in family conversations prepares them for participation in political conversations later in life and most importantly, their activism will encourage others to engage in this very important exercise in community and nation building.

Regards
Kelvin Alleyne
“Poor People Governor”
“A voice of the people for the people”

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