”Utopia lies at the horizon. When I draw nearer by two steps, it retreats two steps. If I proceed ten steps forward, it swiftly slips ten steps ahead. No matter how far I go, I can never reach it. What, then, is the purpose of utopia? It is to cause us to advance.” – Eduardo Galeano
That year my daughter entered middle school was the end of the revolutionary phase. For years we’d struggled and taught, advocated and rallied. There had been advances and setbacks, until one day the levees broke. Suddenly, children and youth flooded the streets of our society’s consciousness. Almost without warning, they were everywhere throughout the city, including the government buildings downtown, the businesses in the strip malls, and the culture at night.
It was like they knew no limits aside from those we’d carefully negotiated; culture, identity, spirituality, and perception seemed like shared events while they were dancing in troupes, painting incredible murals, and reciting poems in every corner.
We had no idea how broad and how deep the revolution would affect our society.
Within just a few weeks there were billboards for youth candidates posted along the interstates, and within a few months citizen-driven green initiatives were transforming those interstates into multi-use travel corridors for bicycles, high-speed rail, and alternative vehicles like Segways. Technology became ubiquitous after young people did, with fully integrated usages throughout schools, homes, and public spaces; McDonald’s and shopping malls rapidly emptied out as the wisdom of young people emerged in a collective tour de force against consumerism and for community-building. Almost immediately young minds and hands were freed to resolve the centuries-old crises of poverty and racism, and with their elasticity apparent, “poor” neighborhoods were transformed into bastions of hope as the young people who lived in them were immediately engaged, employed, and empowered to take charge.
Replacing hatred with hope, people of all ages lined up to serve through AmeriCorps, and lines formed outside every Big Brothers/Big Sisters agency in the country. Every institution that served kids was suddenly flooded with donations and volunteers, all because the immediately reality of young people became fully apparent to every single person in the country.
For my daughter, well, none of this passed by her unnoticed. Her blog quickly announced every development, and her web series openly critiqued, celebrated, and challenged all the developments she’d helped bring about. As she wrote, “My determination and hope were only a drop of water in the sea of this new reality. I only want what is best for everyone, including myself.”
Utopia realized, I began to imagine a new reality further beyond this one.