Straight Talk Advice

Dec 18, 2012

Optimum World 2013

Dear Readers: Youth are society’s truth serum. Every year during the symbolic time of the holidays, I ask the panelists what they wish for the world. Reaching out to others and the earth, the need for community mind over individual mind — this year's theme is unity. Our future leaders get it: we need to take time to understand each other. We need to work together. On an imperiled planet crowded with stressed people, individualistic models no longer serve. To our whole human family, Happy Holidays! —Lauren

Nicole 23, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

My wish is that people open their minds to others’ words, thoughts and feelings. I see a great strength in humanity — and a greater strength in community and unity. I pray that people will respect themselves, strangers, enemies, and the earth, on a level never reached before.

Hasan 21, San Francisco Ask me a question

I ask that we teach compassion instead of encouraging and incentivizing self-interest. Too often we are taught to fight for personal goals and motivations, no matter what stands in our path. From kindergarten through college, I was very much encouraged to work toward a career as a compartmentalized individual unit, profiting primarily myself. This approach is incorrect. Instead parents and teachers must promote careers that aspire to benefit all humanity. Through this, I believe we can begin disassociating from nationalistic tendencies and recognize our common bond as citizens of the same earth.

Ryann 16, Tustin, Calif. Ask me a question

The recent shootings display the low our world has reached. What concerns me most is that when bad things happen to good people, instead of unity, we choose separation. This is what I would change.

Colin 19, Los Angeles Ask me a question

I would fix our broken educational system. I believe the effect would ripple outward more than any other action. It’s simple: 1) pay teachers more — a lot more, like a doctor or lawyer. Now our top brains in college will compete to be teachers rather than something else. 2) Remove teacher tenure. 3) Drastically cut funding for administrators. Many receive six- and seven-figure pay with little advancement to education.

Taylor 15, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

We are so wrapped up in time, money and appearances we have forgotten the natural world. There is little escape from the constant media hum playing with our minds, manipulating our thoughts. Depression, addiction, identity-searching, self harm, attention and eating disorders are more widespread than ever. In 2013, I want to live fully in the present while accomplishing set goals. I want to attend a dance… and actually dance, proud of who I am, not ashamed. I want to leave the media behind and explore Mother Nature.

Brie 21, San Francisco Ask me a question

New to San Francisco, I unknowingly walked through the Tenderloin on my way to work. Drug addicts were everywhere, prostitutes, pimps, the works. People were buying heroin and crack right in front of me and offering them to me, too. Never have I felt more unsafe — or more grateful for a sheltered childhood. Later, friends told me the Tenderloin is known for that. This made me angry that there were no police, that these people aren’t getting help.

Katie 19, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

The Connecticut grade-school shooting devastated me. The mental state of someone in so much pain that they believe killing is the answer is horrible to imagine. We must reach out and include those who are rejected or bullied. One small act of unconditional love toward a fellow human can change someone's day. And that day can change a life.

Christina 20, Marysville, Calif. Ask me a question

Lack of understanding is the root of human problems. Assumptions lead to bullying, hatred and discrimination. If people cared enough to understand where another is coming from, it would resolve disputes and decrease violence everywhere.

Peter 25, Honolulu, Hawaii Ask me a question

I would end human trafficking. Also, I would make giving an automatic human behavior, where everyone, everywhere donated as much to charities as they spent on coffee.

Editor's Note: With the world changing so rapidly it is more important than ever to hear from our younger members.

This generation of youth is more psychologically savvy than any previous modern generation. And, being born into the Information Age and coming of age on the Internet, they automatically think more communally than individualistically. In other words the paradigm shifts needed to carry us to a successful evolution on this planet, the members of this generation naturally embody more than the older generations. They may not all be able to articulate it, but it’s more in their bones as an underlying assumption to how the world works.

We really can benefit from opening our minds to the fact that someone 30, 40, even 50 years younger than us, has something essential to teach. It is the parents’ and elders’ job to reach out to our youth and start communication. We’re a team and we need each other.

Wishing you a peaceful holiday. —Lauren

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