Putting aside, for a moment, the truth that young people are characterized by having a “desire to bring about constructive change”, by having “a capacity for meaningful service”, by having “all the hope in their hearts that, through strenuous concerted effort, the world will change”; setting aside, for a minute, the fact that youth have an “eagerness to take on a measure of responsibility to aid the spiritual and social development of those around them”, and that they “share in the desire to dedicate their time and energy, talents and abilities, to service to their communities”; and ignoring, for a second, that “loving fellowship, mutual encouragement, and willingness to learn together” are properties of groups of youth and that young people possess “altruism, an acute sense of justice, eagerness to learn about the universe and a desire to contribute to the construction of a better world” – why is it that so much emphasis is placed on young people?
In 1920 in the United States, Congress amended the Constitution to give women the right to vote. Prior to this, it was state dependent. Granting this contribution to the national society for roughly 50% of the nation’s population was a matter of justice – the principle of justice demands universal participation in collective decision-making, for justice is the only means by which unity is to be achieved. Equality of men and women in the affairs of society is a prerequisite for progress and central to any advancement, not only at the level of the principle of equality – that the rational soul, a human being’s true nature, has no gender and denial of right based on sex is unfounded – and not only based on the principle of justice – because the contributions of all is required for unity, and unity is necessary for progress – but also simply because of sheer numbers. Half of the people making decisions for the whole?
So let’s look at statistics. 50% of the current world’s population is under 30 years of age. The percentage has been gradually increasing, and is projected to continue. As the population grows, more humans are born, and these humans start out under the age of 30. So it makes sense that over the past few decades the percentage and number of young people have risen. Those under 30 now outnumber those over 30. Of course, not all this 50% of humanity’s population are able to speak in complete sentences or are even fully conscious (ie, the infants and toddlers). However, on both the level of the principle of justice and based on sheer statistics, it makes sense to involve the contribution of young people to the future progress and prosperity of humankind.
Some more statistics. The average age of nations across the world ranges from 15 years old to 49 years old. There are around 33 countries in which the average age is between 15 and 18, and another 29 countries in which the average age is between 19 and 21. There has been a 14% increase in those aged 15 to 24 in the last 20 years – currently 18% of the world’s people are between 15 and 24; while 20% are between 5 and 14. People 14 years old and younger currently make up about a quarter of the world’s population. Those 15-30 also make up 25% of human beings on earth. How can these large numbers contribute to advancement of humankind? Perhaps one-quarter (15-30) can become empowered by responding to the spiritual aspirations of another quarter (those 14 and younger)?
We are in the midst of a youth movement – whether coordinated or not, whether purposeful or not, whether towards laudable aims or not, whether united or not – the movement is gaining and growing. What will be its direction? What will be its influence in the affairs of humankind? Their contribution will be needed in order to even begin to strive for universal participation, without which there can be no justice, without which no unity, no progress.
The Universal House of Justice is charged with the duty of ensuring the advancement and betterment of the world. 50% of the world’s people are 30 and under, half of them youth between 15 and 30. Now we can go back to all the characteristics of young people mentioned in the first paragraph – combining this with the percentage of humanity they represent, little wonder, then, that the House of Justice is working to coordinate and unify this youth movement, to instill in them a “twofold sense of purpose that impels them to take charge of their own spiritual and intellectual growth and contribute to the welfare of society” and make a decisive contribution to the fortunes of humanity. Towards this end there are currently happening 114 youth conferences, to spur on this mighty youth movement – the first world-wide, unified, purposeful, commendable youth movement in the history of humanity.