Last month I was honoured to attend the launch of “Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change” – the latest book by Justine Huxley, Director of St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace – and wow, what a great night it was! In all honesty, “Generation Y” could not have come at a more crucial time.
The new release sheds much-needed light upon the incredible energy and activism of young people of faith today. Featuring a series of interviews with an inspiring group of young sacred activists (yes millennials!), the book seeks to show how Generation Y is doing things differently and creating positive, long-lasting change.
Millennials: Not the media’s favourite!
With millennials often getting an unfair name of being a generation of “overly woke” “snowflakes“, “avocado eating” (what’s wrong with avocados?!), “lazy“, “over-entitled” young people in comparison to baby boomers (of course all tosh!), I for one (as a self-identifying millennial) was delighted to attend an event that not only recognised but crucially celebrated the amazing work of young activists across the country and globe!
To mark the release of the book and the several years of work behind it, St. Ethelburga’s welcomed a range of guests and attendees for a night of interfaith dialogue and activism. We were able to hear Justine speak about the motivations behind the project and enjoyed a panel with some of the featured interviewees. This really allowed us to hear directly from those involved and find out about their own individual journeys. This was a much-welcomed night, as it’s crucial that society works to empower younger generations (as all generations in fact) and recognise that times now are increasingly different compared to those of the older generations when they were our age.
Young adults nowadays face a myriad of (different yet equally important) socio-economic, cultural, political and spiritual challenges. Now of course, no time was “picture perfect” (despite what nostalgia would lead people to believe), yet I do feel that the pressures we face in finding employment, wanting to get on the property ladder, finding fulfilling relationships, climbing the career ladder and living in an increasingly divided society marred by conflict, increasing hate, global climate change and socio-economic inequality, must not be dismissed. Equally, the work that Generation Y is doing to address some of the many complex issues affecting not only our generation but wider society, should be acknowledged, celebrated, encouraged and supported.
It’s these critical social, economic, political and cultural issues which we’re working to alleviate/address. Climate change – a problem we’ve inherited but are responsible for addressing in order to save the planet and safeguard our own children’s futures – is for example just one of the many areas where many members of Generation Y are leading the way – as the book so critically publicises.
With one of the interviewees having just finished medical school yet in the same year set up an astonishing three charities (yes three!), celebrating the passion, determination and ethical drive of Generation Y is the least we should be doing! And within this, St. Ethelburga’s is recognising the role of faith and spirituality in our lives, whilst allowing a range of spiritual traditions and diversity to flourish – free from dogma and labels.
Sacred activism: Faith in action
What I find so positive about Ethelburga’s, is its relationship to faith and interfaith. St. Ethelburga’s recognises and encourages healthy, deep reflective approaches to faith. Here, it’s about how you identify with God and how that inspires you each and every day. It’s not (solely) about what religious building you do or don’t visit, what group you do or don’t belong to or how you label yourself – as much as this is respected and welcomed. No, here the focus is on what your faith/spiritual tradition means to you and how it affects your life. How refreshing and inspiring!
This is a great interfaith space on a deep, spiritual, inclusive level. I myself feel incredibly blessed to have found such a welcoming, refreshing and reflective space. Having taken part in the Sacred Activist programme to Calais and recently taken part in a weekend storytelling workshop – both from which I gained a lot of space for growth, reflective and practical skill building/experience – I was also honoured to recently win the award for Sacred Activist of the Year 2019 award, along with fellow activist Hannah Rose Thomas for my interfaith and human rights activism.
Over the moon to have won Sacred Activist of the Year 2019 by @StEthelburgas. Thank u to all those who have supported me+given a space! @nisanashim @FaithMattersUK @TellMamaUK @CCATcroydon @AmnestyUK @thehoff102 @faithbelieforum @SWpublishing @FeedingFolk @MAAS_UK @UnderOneSkyUK pic.twitter.com/ztlaZyUKq1
— Elizabeth Arif-Fear (@Voice_of_Salam) March 7, 2019
Receiving my award last month was an incredible moment and from the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank St. Ethelburga’s and the team for their incredible support, encouragement and recognition. On behalf of all of us activists of Generation Y, I’d also like to say THANK YOU for believing in us and not only standing with us on our journey but encouraging and supporting us along the way!
So do find out more about Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change through Justine’s book and spread the message! From one avocado-eating sacred activist to the world!
Salam, shalom, peace ♥