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miha thijs on the bus

These idealistic youngsters sparked a democratic emotion in me. For yes, it is true, emotions are tied to specific places, and you do need “Y” people to come to you and show where your complex ideas are hiding inside yourself; and do so in places which are familiar, so that they will linger with you longer. “Y” of course reads “why” but also “young”, and only young people could be so idealistic to try and destroy that barrier that we all create against those complex ideas.

Ideas?
Hm, democracy, vote, those are truly complex “ideas” – no emotion is normally attached to them. We live in a fast world, and young people have no time to stop and think about these things; to internalize them; to associate emotions to them. For it is a fact, that decisions are made using our brain but based on emotions, and if I do not have an “emotion to vote”, then why bother. Thanks Y people for trying, then, for I understand it is a difficult task: I know it personally.

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Me, almost 30 and counting, living in Nottingham after two years in the US; to be sure, I do remain still truly Italian and “European inside”, a logo stamped in my heart by several years of AEGEE active involvement. This peculiar condition makes me think often: why are young people in the UK and the US less interested in voting than in mainland Europe (like Italy)?
They should be keen on democracy much as us “Europeans”, and even more so, since modern democracy was born in the UK (just today I first saw the Magna Charta, 1215…); and whether we admit it or not, found its fullest “experiment” in the US. Yet in both countries, young people lost touch with democracy; do not show up at voting day; and in the case of the UK, feel the European Union as alien from their heritage – while it is.
I believe you may look at young people and discover the faults of a society; for youth is by nature spontaneous and easier to read. My belief is young people in Europe lack a political class able to talk to their interests and reality; and in particular in the UK you see this failure of European institutions: quite because people here have democracy in their DNA, they are even more aware that Europe is still not an accomplished one. Thence, in my view, the lack of interest. Of course politicians are as capable as they can get, given the incomplete institutional framework that the European project is based on; but I believe that young people are the first ones to pick up good politics and the easiest to call to action, as the Obama experiment in the US has shown.

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Well, while European politicians obviously only had a limited ability to inflame the hearts of British young people, a few idealistic AEGEE people driving around in their white bus could sow the seed of hope. By patiently talking to young people, risking humiliation with their public actions in the streets, and inviting an open response to their “provocation”, they have managed to show how important (and doable) it is to create emotions for us who are young at heart, if not at age.
The emotion of an unexpected encounter, a random chat in the street, the image of a European flag in the familiar places normally linked to these young people’s lives: all small factors, but with a big impact. They link empty and complex words like “democracy” and “vote” to colorful and live places like the main square of Nottingham or a Chinese restaurant in Derby, thus creating an indelible mark in at least a few people encountered on the way.

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And while change may take long and unpredictable patterns, it obviously is rooted in unpredictable places and feeds on small things that make a big difference.
To begin with, since I parted with the “white bus” group last week, the UK has been at its sunniest in my memory.

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Fab

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