On The 4th Anniversary of 9/11 a Promising New Trend Emerges; Young People Are More Civically Involved Than Ever; a New Book - Generation 9/11 - Captures Their Vision

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Today's youth is more concerned about the environment, politics and globalisation. Interest in non-profit careers has more than doubled and volunteering is more popular than ever. A new book, released on August 24, describes how young people envision their future.

Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of Youth Service America, recently announced that "today's young people are volunteering at record rates - more than any generation in history." (ysa.org)

CBS News reported in July this year that interest in non-profit careers has more than doubled. Applications for Peace Corps are up 80% and Teach for America experienced an increase of 40%. According to the same report, young people graduating from prestigious American universities are forfeiting jobs on Wall Street to teach inner-city kids.

It is this opting for alternatives to an economic system mainly encouraging self-interest that characterises Reissmann’s book, "Generation 9/11". While travelling through Central America, Thomas engages other travellers in humorous to profound discussions about how to change the system. What emerges is a philosophy of care and self-determination, similar to Robert Pirsig’s notion of Quality in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, yet applicable to today’s accelerated culture. Just like Pirsig's road trip, Reissmann's story is an engaging travel account as well as a search for inner peace, and there is the same sense of practicality when it comes to proposing alternatives.

In the words of Dr. Lorin Roche, author of Meditation 24/7: "You will laugh and cry as you see travel, love and politics intertwine. Tom's book takes you along a daring road of fact, unconscious imagery and intuition. At the end of which, we are left with the feeling that we have somehow touched the divine." A recent reviewer on Amazon wrote the following about his first book “Return to La Paz”: "Reissmann has a beautiful way of conveying his story by spinning an intricate web of ideas, philosophies, and teachings together. He is an inspiring and talented writer."

In Reissmann’s opinion, young people began to see the long-term effects of 9/11, when it catalyzed not one but two wars; caused numerous other terrorist attacks; curtailed civil liberties and spurned several scandals, including the Rove-leak, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and the falsification of intelligence data to justify the war in Iraq. But above all, it highlighted the dangers of dependence on oil imports and the influence of corporations on American foreign policy. As a consequence, young people are now actively searching for alternatives to the current political and economic system.

Add to this the threat of global warming and this generation has reason to be seriously concerned. A new study out of MIT has determined that the destructive power of hurricanes in the North Atlantic and North Pacific has nearly doubled over the past 30 years (democracynow.org). The Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson noted in 2004 that global warming poses a greater long-term threat to humanity than terrorism because it could force hundreds of millions from their homes and trigger an economic catastrophe (CNN).

While “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “The Daily Show” and “Get out the Vote” programs could not change the election result, they did raise awareness of such issues among a previously apolitical young generation, and as a result the youth vote was up 9.3% in the 2004 election, after decades of decreasing youth voter numbers (youthvote.org).

But as Wilene Justilien, a law student, who now teaches French to inner-city kids, pointed out on CBS News: "If we are truly going to affect change in our country it has to start at the bottom, it has to start with our young ones." She defines Generation 9/11 as “a generation that wants to improve the lives of others and is driven to succeed at that right now.”

Thomas Reissmann’s background lends an interesting perspective to his work, as he was liberated by the collapse of socialism in East Germany, and subsequently travelled the world for eight years. He has studied Tourism Management in the UK and Australia; investigated the effects of tourism in Costa Rica; managed a hostel in New Zealand, and currently works for responsibletravel.com. Return to La Paz was his first title; Generation 9/11 is his second. For more information go to http://www.generation911.co.uk.

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