Thank you all for being here. This is a really, really important convention. You’ll see a lot of people talking about where the Liberal party is going.
What is most important is that we are together, we are talking substantially about how we’re moving forward and we’re building up the confidence and strength to start to address the real challenges we’re facing. Not just as a party, not just the country – but as a planet and a civilization.
The 21st century is one in which the challenges we’re collectively facing – whether it’s the environment or poverty, or social justice, human rights, or the conflicts that automatically arise when all these other problems come into play. The 21st century will be extremely difficult for humans, but for that very reason we must ensure that solutions can be brought forward.
We have come to a place where we can say we can’t continue with the status quo. We have to think of the best way to interest people, to address society and civilization. We can no longer simply assume that the world is big enough that if we took care of our own little corner of it the rest would fall into place. We can no longer simply assume that there will always be enough time to shift, to adapt, to change our behaviours.
Humanity and the civilization that we’re living in right now with, we’re successful because of short term thinking. Because of people maximizing the resources they draw on, we now need a whole new way of thinking that is much more long-term, much more responsive to the consequences of our small insignificant actions and much more mindful of the power of each and every one of us has individually to shape the society we live in.
At a time where we should be saying information is powerful, we’ve never felt so powerless. What can an individual truly do to have an impact on the world around us when it’s so big, so fast, when it all seems so huge?
The crisis of relevance is visible most concretely in our young people. We get a bad rap – I know this – a bad rap for being apathetic, for cynicism.
But the apathy comes not because we don’t care about the world, but because we care so much, because were frustrated that we’ll get to have our say. We don’t get to make that difference in the world that we’re supposedly going to inherit. Our cynicism comes from the fact that we believe that the world could be better, that the world should be better, and that we should be doing things differently and nothing seems to change.
That’s why every single speech I’ve given over the past 5 to 6 years to young people, to high schools, to elementary schools, universities, and groups of Canadians across the country have included a total cliché: that young people are not our leaders of tomorrow. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are leaders of tomorrow. The “leader of tomorrow” is conditional: if you do your homework, if you get involved, if you did the right sort of things to succeed, then one day you become a leader.
No, you’re not leaders of tomorrow, you’re leaders of today. The kinds of thinking that you can bring forward, the kinds of challenges of rethinking our society that we have – like Martha said – we need to be bold; you need to be bold. Older people get stuck in their mortgages, their career path, their way of what works, and what has worked, and that’s important. All societies must be resistance to change for stability, but we also have to know how to question the status quo, how to challenge ourselves to be more, to think better, to think differently.
This is something that has to come from every one of us here, all young people who don’t feel that politics is important. People who prefer to join Greenpeace or Amnesty International or local initiatives within their own communities rather than play partisan politics. This is what we have to change and young Liberals have to go back to all of the young people in your schools and colleges, in cities. Young people who are not terribly interested in politics but want to change the world. We have to show them that politics is a way to change the world.
The crisis of relevance we’re living goes to a very, very basic element. Human beings have one basic core need: once you get past the need for food, shelter, clothing, we are social animals. We need to feel like we are relevant. We need to see we matter to our tribe, and the accumulation of wealth, of fame and material goods can sometimes be an indicator of how important you are, how much impact you have your community.
But, fundamentally, fundamentally, human beings get defined by what they have to offer the world around them. We have a society right now of young academics, of young leaders, of young people who realize that the old way of thinking does not hold anymore. We need to be bold, we need to stand up. We need to say, “let’s rethink everything” because we know that the challenge we’re facing as a planet, as a civilization, can only be solved if countries like Canada — that have all the solutions at our fingertips, and all the advantages in the world — step up.
We must put aside ideology, and start building on our values and our common themes and what works, in evidence-based policy. That is why Canada needs Liberal Party and the Liberal Party needs Canada. Thank you, young people for all you’re doing and dare to change the world.
Justin Trudeau will be on #FAQMP January 23, 8 pm EST. The following is an unofficial transcript of a speech he made on the morning of January 13, 2012 at the Liberal Biennial Convention to the Young Liberals of Canada.
Reposted from the article by Karyn Pugliese.