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The European Gen Z Manifesto

Dilara Bilgic (2002) wrote an open letter to her young European peers. What is their opinion on the democracy in their European country?

Are you a passionate and bright young person (below 20) from Europe who needs to be heard? We are eager to connect with you and ask you to join our project. Find Dilara’s letter and all other details below.

Author
Dilara Bilgic

This project is an initiative by Forum on European Culture, New Heroes and Dilara Bilgic. Read more about this initiative below!

Dear reader,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dilara, currently 17 years old, and I am writing because I’m concerned. Concerned about not being heard. About being underestimated. I am worried about our future. That’s why I am writing you, youngsters. Because your ideas and opinions matter and deserve to be heard.

               Nowadays we’re often considered as ‘not grown up yet’. Take the climate change protests organized by youngsters: many adults in the Netherlands believed that these youngsters were merely protesting to skip classes, that these ‘kids’ didn’t even know why they were protesting, that they were too idealistic. But was it true? Is this eagerness for change just a phase of life, a phase of idealism, that we have to grow through? Aren’t we, adolescents, mature or realistic yet? Or was their hushing maybe a way to mute our voices?

               Do we actually have the freedom to change the world? Are we, adolescents, even allowed to give our opinion about a discrepancy between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought’? Will the adults listen? 

Let’s go back in time: November 17, 2018. A new protest movement was born in France: the yellow vest movement. We stood at the cradle of rebellion: mass demonstrations, online petitions, the blocking of roads and more. Were these protesters too optimistic? Too idealistic? Had they lost touch with the world as it was, as they were focussing on how it ought to be? 

The present-day American philosopher Susan Neiman advocates a balance between what ‘is’ on one side and what ‘ought’ on the other side: ‘’It demands that we learn the difference between is and ought without ever giving up on either one. (…)

Keeping one eye on the way the world ought to be, while never losing sight of the way it is, requires permanent, precarious balance.’’ Neiman believes that we should find a balance between merely cynicism, and pure idealism; a balance between mindlessly refusing, and mindlessly accepting.

The philosopher Hannah Arendt also emphasizes our freedom to change the world. She states that human beings have the capability to change facts, due to the ability of imagination : ‘’In order to make room for one’s own action, something that was there before must be removed or destroyed, and things as they were before are changed. Such change would be impossible if we could not (…) imagine that things might as well be different from what they actually are. (…) Without the mental freedom to deny or affirm existence (…) no action would be possible; and action is of course the very stuff politics are made of.’’

The very stuff politics are made of. 

I am eager to hear about your ideas: what is your opinion about democracy in your European country? What do you think we should do to make the democracy feel like ‘our democracy’? To fully embrace the political system in Europe? To make it a system in which we want to (and can) participate? One built on trust. How do we create a democracy in which everyone has a voice, one that will be heard? 

In the Netherlands prime-minister Mark Rutte recently said in one of the press conferences about the coronavirus measures: ‘’My colleagues and I, we find it very important that you youngsters will think with us, and talk with us about it. Because in the end, it is about your future. Your ideas and your creativity are needed right now. (…) Criticize, provided that it is constructive.’’ And: ‘‘start the revolution from below.’’

Let’s follow his appeal, shall we? Youngsters of all countries, unite.

Awaiting your ideas and letters,

Best regards,

Dilara.

Dilara Bilgic (2002), author of the book ‘The Black Box Democracy’ just graduated from grammar school in the Netherlands. In her book she analyses the Dutch political system and adumbrates an alternative political system. This epistle invites adolescents to come up with ideas about the European or national political system. All letters will be gathered by Forum on European Culture and handed over to the European Parliament.

The initiative

Only 17 years old, Dutch writer Dilara Bilgic recently published the book The Black Box Democracy. As a passionate youngster she investigated a new way of thinking about democracy in The Netherlands. Besides Dilara there seems to be a bigger movement: a younger generation ready for change, shown for example during the massive Global Climate Strike. 

In the run up to the performance In Search of Democracy 3.0 during the Forum on European Culture Dilara Bilgic opens the dialogue within her generation and across the continent: in what kind of democracy do they want to live? And what can we do to get there? Together with Forum on European and Culture and New Heroes Dilara starts a chain letter project: A New Generation In Search of a New Democracy.

All letters will be gathered by Forum on European Culture and eventually gathered in a small publication. Together with these young people we will hand over the letters to the European Parliament.

Do you know a passionate and bright young person (below 20) from Europe who needs to be heard? We are eager to connect with them and ask them personally to join our project!

Guidelines

–          Deadline: September 17

–          Length: 600 words max

–          Language: English

–          Content:

Reaction to Dilara’s call to action: What is your opinion on democracy in your European country? Which concrete things should we do in order to make sure our voice is heard?  

  • Keep it simple and personal. Also, we would like to invite you to come up with concrete ideas, steps and solutions that  your fellow youngsters should undertake, which can be of inspiration to them.
  • Please add a short bio including your name, what you do, where you are from and a photo.
  • Send your letter and/or potential questions to timo.harmelink@debalie.nl before the 21st of August

Dilara Bilgic (2002), author of the book ‘The Black Box Democracy’ just graduated from grammar school in the Netherlands. In her book she analyses the Dutch political system and adumbrates an alternative political system. This epistle invites adolescents to come up with ideas about the European or national political system. All letters will be gathered by Forum on European Culture and handed over to the European Parliament.

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