Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh writes about the power of young people to shake up the status quo, and the need for intergenerational solidarity….

The younger generation are a beacon for the future.  Not only can they envision a better world; they have the power to change the world.  Sometimes, it is the youngest members of a family that serve to challenge orthodoxy and suggest new approaches to tackle what seem to be intractable problems.  They have energy and passion and unimaginable potential to do good.  Equally, they have the potential to become nihilistic and apathetic, depending on the contexts and conditions they find themselves in.

As economic, environmental and social problems become intertwined on an unprecedented scale, millennials demonstrate enormous drive and commitment to fight for causes that they are passionate about.  Globally, from events in Egypt to mass migration across the Mediterranean, they have utilised social media to put the spotlight on issues which mainstream media may not have had access to or not deemed newsworthy. And so, young people have become an alternative and powerful voice.  With this power, however, comes the responsibility to ensure that social change is pursued, not for self-aggrandizement, nor to perpetuate the vicious circle of violent extremism and retaliatory action, but for the common good and to build sustainable peace. 

Young adulthood brings with it many compelling impulses and convictions.  Often, these are joined by the inclination to seek instant gratification or results.  Senior leaders can offer insights honed from decades of lived experience, for which there is no substitute. They have the potential to provide a steadying hand and stable backbone.  Such intergenerational engagement is vital for us to co-create the kind of robust and resilient architecture that is needed to foster a better world for us all. 

If peace is the goal, senior leaders must be genuine and not hypocritical in working towards it.  There is no room for lip service.  Importantly, they must be there to create opportunities for dialogue and action.  They must provide support with love and respect and guide young people to think with both the heart and the head.  I would also add that, the two-way dialogue can become a richer and deeper three-way, by connecting with the Spirit, with God, with the spiritual reserve blessed to each human, irrespective of age.  This can transform the tone and direction that any collaboration takes.   

All of us have a shared, social responsibility to lovingly raise and engage with young people, who will be new parents and grandparents of tomorrow.  Today, they are fully armed with technology, the might of connectivity and recognition of the brutalities of our world. Yet, indulgence in technology at the expense of real human contact also leaves a huge vacuum.  We risk rearing a generation less accustomed to contact with real (rather than virtual) communities, for such contact crucially shapes and sustains us as whole people.  Family breakdown has further eroded the social fabric, as well as the tender fabric of a child’s personal world, the consequences of which are difficult to measure.

With so many complex problems and uncertainties confronting us, from the microcosmic to macrocosmic scales of our lives, we must indeed inspire, motivate and empower young people to be true agents of social change.  Like a mirror, they present all humans with a reflection of our potential to live with values, virtues and integrity of character.  To walk the talk, however, we must be genuine about what we think, do and act, as we support them to become society’s beacons and future hope.


Bhai Sahibji’s message is an extract from:
Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change, edited by Justine Afra Huxley.

A new collection of stories and interviews with young adults and their allies exploring the landscape emerging around spirituality and social change, reflecting both the energy and inspiration of the next generation and the tremendous challenges they face. It points towards an exciting evolution in the way we are relating to the sacred.

With stories from: Adam Bucko, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Abbas Zahedi, Camille Barton, Bruna Kadletz, Dekila Chungyalpa, Matt Youde, Amrita Bhohi, Sun Kaur, and many others. With supporting stories from senior leaders including: Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner and more.

Learning from Generation Y and Z 
Engage Dr Justine Huxley to give a talk or workshop on these themes with young people from the book:  justine@stethelburgas.org

Intergenerational dialogues
St Ethelburga’s hosts intergenerational dialogues for senior faith or business leaders to come together with young social activists who hold a vision for our future.  These dialogues create safe space and use restorative justice dialogue processes to explore how the generations can work together. For more info: justine@stethelburgas.org 

Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia OBE, KSG is the third in line of Sikh religious leaders of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, and is Chairman of the Nishkam Group of Charitable Organisations.  Bhai Sahib (which means ‘Elder Brother’), is active in interfaith dialogue, social regeneration and education. He is Patron of the ground-breaking Sikh ethos multi-faith Nishkam School, Chair and Trustee of the Museum of World’s Religions UK and Co-Convenor of the International Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation.  He is passionate about empowering individuals and organisations with common religious values to selfless service. Internationally, Bhai Sahib is a recognised ‘Interfaith Visionary’, holding the Juliet Hollister Award from the Temple of Understanding whose past awardees have included His Holiness the Dalia Lama and Nelson Mandela.


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