Tonight on return from a long day at Forum events, I opened an e-mail from my retired friend and colleague John Borgen. In the e-mail was a link to this song sung by a young person with a spectacular voice, Jackie Evancho. Somehow, it fits like a glove the earlier part of the day, and transcends individual sectarian beliefs with a universal message from young people to us all.
The first part of today’s agenda was the traditional Nobel Peace Prize Festival for K-12 students, now folded into the new format of the Forum.
Kennedy Center at Augsburg College was crowded with school kids at 11 a.m. I had found a chair in the second row in front of the podium. To my left First Graders from Burroughs Elementary in Minneapolis were beginning their welcoming song. On the opposite side of the gym this years honoree, 1993 co-(with Nelson Mandela) Nobel Laureate F. W. de Klerk of South Africa, had arrived with no fanfare in a darkened auditorium.
The song had just begun and Mr. de Klerk walked briskly and inobtrusively toward the center of the room, and sat down directly in front of me, gazing intently at the children to his left. I couldn’t resist taking this photograph which, to me, speaks the proverbial thousand words (click to enlarge).
It was the beginning of another magnificent day. (The entire opening session, and all the other major sessions at the Forum are accessible on-line here. It is the opening session for Day 2, and is 32 minutes. It was announced by someone, yesterday, that people in 46 different countries had checked in on the on-line program at some time or other during the day. This is what the internet looks like!)
Mr. de Klerk was visibly moved by the kids performance. He commented on how those youngsters moved him in his remarks to the audience, primarily students, parents and their teachers.
As a fellow grandfather, I related.
I have been to previous Festivals, and heard other Nobel Laureates comment similarly.
Kids affect their elders this way. Regardless of ones fame, or ordinariness, almost all of us are aware that we are leaving a future to our kids, and it is coming to be their turn, and hopefully they’ll be kind to us, and hopefully they’ll remember what we left them fondly, and not bitterly….
Day Two is best observed through watching the previously mentioned video files archived on line. The thoughts of Andrew Slack of the Harry Potter Alliance; Joe Cavanaugh of Youth Frontiers; and noted rapper and writer Dessa, plus some some outstanding workshops filled out a marvelous day. Through the magic of still-youthful (born 2005) YouTube, you can easily find examples of Dessa’s music – just enter the name Dessa in the searchbox. (The Forum was the first I’d ever heard of her – she is a mightily impressive 30-year old.)
Though her remarks to the audience I was with were brief, she connected and she registered with me and with the audience. Arriving home in the evening, I tuned in the website, and Dessa was finishing her talk to a (probably) youthful, enthusiastic and attentive audience at the Forum’s evening session.
Listen to the keynotes on line if you can. If you can tune in on only one, I’d highly recommend Joe Cavanaugh of Youth Frontiers.
Hope for our future was with those kids and all of the speakers I saw and heard today.
I think it was Cavanaugh who compared the Millenials with the Greatest Generation: they are poised to do what needs to be done for our and the planets survival.
“Slow down”, he advised us all, remembering his father’s frequent admonishment to the youthful in-a-hurry kid, and reflecting the frantic pace and data overload of today.
Here’s a small album from today (click on any to enlarge):