As we begin the new year the air is filled with talk of resolutions. Many of us are taking this time to consider what we have accomplished and what adventures lie ahead. At our recent TEDxYouth@PrincetonLibrary, I had the honor of getting to know a lot of young people and to hear their dreams for the future.
During registration we asked everyone to write down a dream that they were willing to ‘commit to making real’ with the hope that by the end of the event they would feel empowered to take the first steps on the path to dream actualization. These dreams were put into red balloons, thrown among the crowd, read, and then placed into a jar of dreams that shared the stage during the event.
Some dreams were imminent and practical: “my dream is to get into NYU”; “to get on the dean’s list every semester”; “finish college.” Some related to careers they were working towards, interestingly mostly healers: “to be a pediatrician”; “to be a vet”; “to become a nurse practitioner in a children’s hospital”; and a heartbreaking combination of the two, “to invent/find a cure for mom’s stomach disease."
There were dreams to save the planet; “to live in a cleaner earth”; “to have human needs and environmental needs balanced”; "saving all the frogs”; “clean water for all people on earth."
Some related to what we learned might be called 'lollipop moments': “to change at least one person’s life”; “for no one to make enemies, and personally to be less cheesy”; “to spread love, tolerance, understanding and compassion through theater, art, and music”; “for everyone to know how special they are”; “for the world to love AND respect AND value one another – we are nothing less than great!”
Each in their own way a wonderful sentiment, but what of it? The remarkable thing about TED and TEDx events, generally and TEDxYouth events, in particular, is that they give a voice to people who have done the most important thing towards dream actualization, they have taken action. By bringing these speakers and change agents into gatherings around the world and then uploading their talks to the World Wide Web, we have the opportunity to show EVERYONE that heroes are not born with a lightning bolt on their forehead. Every person on this humble planet can enact change in some way and, even if it is a small step, the ramifications and benefits could be endless. Even if you are simply the one with the courage to follow, support and spread the word.