Mhairi black is only 20. she’s the youngest mp in the house of commons and she’s re-writing the rule book on what youth are capable of…
Yesterday, she delivered her maiden speech and showed everyone how it’s done, demonstrating how her age group can be eloquent, articulate and above all, steely in determination.
— 4D Research (@lauramclarty) July 15, 2015
One of my first posts (back in 2010) was a thought piece about how young people were still being viewed as untrustworthy and ‘dangerous’ in our society. This is something that has stayed with us since the 1950s and the advent of rock ‘n’ roll…
Not much has changed over the past five years. Government agendas and media outlets ‘present’ young people to us as a negative group of the population, devoid of skill or morality.
‘Youth’ has become an all-encompassing term – they have been given a mask that is easier to understand and compartmentalise, thus it’s less threatening.
We are told to remember that:
- they are different to us – we are not them, they are not us – there is no middle ground
- they can be kept at an arms length – we don’t have to make the effort to understand them or interact with them if we don’t want to
What has struck me about the commentary around Mhairi (aside from being a woman) is her age. In general, there is a real sense of amazement at what she has achieved, because 20 year olds aren’t meant to be this successful are they? Surely there aren’t others out there who are as effective – are there?
In terms of law and policy, the view of young people and their capabilities is very confused. They are certainly not children but are not yet considered responsible and able enough to be deemed as ‘adults’, whatever that term really means. Government policy is focused on supporting a linear life course that apparently all young people take – a trajectory that ultimately ends in some sort of resolution of concerns about their social responsibilities and their commitments to society and communities.
Well, Mhairi Black has already shown others her age that:
- 1. you can do any job you want to, if you truly believe in yourself
- 2. it’s ok to stand up for what you believe in
- 3. criticism is not the end of the world – it strengthens your resolve
- 4. there are others out there who are fighting their corner
Thank goodness for that.
Her speech also includes a story about people she has met through volunteering in her local area, a real connection she has managed to make that has given her a rich experience and understanding of life.
Instead of talking about her age, we should be more accepting that this type of work is achievable for young people. This is not something out of the ordinary, but a reality and this would become more obvious if we were willing to just let them in.