Youth News

#What you do matters

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This year, King David High School Linksfield’s Awareness Week is a little different to last year. Appropriately scheduled in commemoration of Youth Day, it focuses on ignorance versus activism. But this year, aside from the fact that each day will be experienced virtually, it takes place in the wake of a global pandemic which has highlighted disparities in our communities. It takes place amidst the horror and heartbreak of #Icantbreathe and George Floyd. It takes place as protests around the world extract the best and worst from human nature. For us, it’s clear that we can’t be passive. We can’t claim ignorance. What we do matters.
by LEORA PORTER | Jun 11, 2020

And so, we’ll consider our privilege and the responsibility that accompanies it. We’ll interview a heroine, Caster Semenya, as we expose the discrimination and antisemitism that we and others experience in sport. We’ll rise up against gender bias and sexism. And we’ll condemn in the strongest form all and any forms of racism.

The Washington Holocaust Museum is a powerful tribute to victims of the Holocaust and genocide. As you reach the bottom of the three-storey Holocaust exhibit, you make your way through two giant pillars emblazoned with the words “#never again” and “#never forget”. And then, not 10 steps later, there is an exhibit for the people of Rwanda, Darfur, Iraq, Burundi, Cambodia, and Libya. The list goes on and on. These are all genocides which took place after the holocaust. So much for “#never again”! It’s incomprehensible.

So, the museum has changed its hashtag from “never again” and “never forget” to “#What you do matters”. Of course, its intention is obvious: what we do about discrimination matters. We can no longer be passive in our protest of such atrocities. But there is a deeper, broader meaning to it too: what we do with our lives matters. How we spend our time matters. How we use our words matters.

It’s a simple hashtag which dares us to do something meaningful. It reminds us that the opportunity to create change is in our hands. As the youth of our beautiful country, we have to rise to this expectation of us. Our religion is founded on the precept of tikkun olam. It has its roots in the Mishna, and is defined by acts of kindness to perfect or repair the world.

We planned our Awareness Week more than three weeks ago. Before George Floyd was unashamedly murdered by a white police officer. Before #Icantbreathe. Before SpaceX launched its first commercial space craft. Before matrics went back to school amidst a global pandemic. We live in a world of endless possibilities. A world of profound dualities. A world where we have a choice to be activists, to be part of the greatness of building, or to be ignorant and part of destruction. This year, as we commemorate Youth Day, we will draw on the courage of those young activists who, 44 years ago, stood up for what’s right. We have to embrace the impact our actions can have on the world around us. Because at the end of the day, what we do matters.

  • Leora Porter is head of the King David High School Linksfield Awareness Committee.

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