Many years ago in the United States, the United Negro College Fund utilised the catchphrase: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.
And that was promoted over and over and over again. That phrase is as relevant now as it was then.
I think there’s a constant thing that prevails among young people. It is their dissatisfaction and alienation from mainstream institutions due to the perception of their dishonesty and duplicitous behaviour.
It is easy to stand back far away and point fingers at institutions and policies we find distasteful. We can rant and rail against all of these things, but after all of our energies are expended in doing so, it doesn’t accomplish much.
We can complain. We can protest. We can do all of those things but the fact is that we have do something.
There has to be an expectation on the part of young people that you’re able to take intelligent decisions about your lives, while taking the responsibility for the decisions you make.
Within this context is the principles of leadership. Young people need to be active participants in any process which has the ability to improve your life and circumstance and that of others.
Never shy away from the chance to lead. It bolsters self esteem through efficacy and confidence. Never avoid an opportunity to lead: to stretch the distance between you and the rest of the pack.
All of you have the challenge and responsibility to identify and assess those issues relevant to you as young, intelligent and energetic individuals.
Always remember to keep in mind – although it may seem we face the possibility of defeat, let it not stop us directing all of our energies to a cause we think is just.
Do the best you can. Thank you.
This speech was given at the B.L.A.C.K (Bold Leadership Awareness Cultural Knowledge) workshop in Mt Druitt on Saturday, October 22.