And Now His Watch is Ended

The Greater Fool
I’ve been sitting and staring at this on and off for about a week, just wondering where to start? How can you distil all you have seen and done in a year to a summary? The answer is you can’t. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes of being Youth President, a year full of lows and highs. 

When I took up this role a year ago, I started off by saying I was a Geek. I think it’s fair to say that if you’ve met me this year then that became pretty clear quickly, perhaps by the random quote from a movie or comic, the Loot Crate t-shirt or the enthusiastic conversation engaged in the moment you mentioned any TV show! I let you all know that my social media posts were full of these Geeky comments and my daily complaints, in particular about trains and travel. One year later travel is still one of my major complaints, but let’s be honest here; it’s everyone’s complaint as well! 

One year ago, I said that I wanted to be “The Greater Fool”. It’s an economics theory that the price of an object is not determined by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations. If that made absolutely no sense to you, then perhaps this might help: 

“For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool, someone who will buy long and sell short…The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed” – Sloan Sabbith (The Newsroom, S1 EP10) 

Those that knew me a year ago could probably attest to my self-delusion and ego. I’d wager a lot of you still think I’m deluded and have a large ego, but that isn’t a bad thing. Christianity, at its core, is built up by Greater Fools, and continues to be built by them. Jesus believed that the society and culture around him could be better. He wanted to change a discourse of segregation, oppression, elitism, racism. He was told that it was impossible. Yet, if it was impossible, why are we 2000 years later still trying to follow his example?

Hope in the Few
I’ve been humbled by the people I’ve met this year across the Connexion and around the country. men and women who feel convicted in their feelings that whatever they do, no matter if it is for 100 people or 4, is worth doing. I can’t understate that enough; the impact these people are having on lives of those around them is worth it. I’m not saying that from some Christian ethos, though that is a part of it, but from a far more base perspective: humanity. We are in a world that has changed in the last year. A world in which we have elected leaders not denouncing racist rhetoric, marginalising groups based on faith, race and religion, children being attacked at concerts, rising acts of aggression from countries involving nuclear weapons, fear and uncertainty about the future and more. 

Yet, we live in a world of expectant hope. A world where acts of terror are met with and outpouring of love. A world where intolerance and injustice are met with peaceful protest and unity. A world where you can find encouragement from the most unlikely of sources. A world where the strangers can share in tears over loved ones lost.  

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world.” -Margaret Mead 

I’ve had the privilege to meet young people who want to change the world they live in, who have the ambitions and dreams of a better world. I’ve met adults who want to continue to change the world, but also encourage and facilitate young people to do the same. These people have inspired me and challenged me to be a better man.

In my head I’ve been thinking I should leave you all with some glint of inspirational wisdom gained from this year. Something deep and meaningful and full of philosophical reason; but I can’t really. I am a moderately attractive 23-year old Christian who is like everyone else in the world. I am a broken person in more ways than you think, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In Japan, there is a form of art called “Kintsukuroi.” It means “to repair with gold”. The artist repairs broken pottery with gold or silver, understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. We are all broken people, but its those around us, those who inspire us, the things we read, the things we watch, the things we listen to that repair our souls. We are beautiful in our brokenness. It’s down to every human being to be the gold that repairs others souls, and repairs the world along the way.

It has been a privilege to have been your Youth President this year. My only regret is I wish I could have done more for you all. You are all wonderful and beautiful human beings, and my life is all the better for having met and known you all.
I leave you with the words of Gandalf to challenge you all:
“…so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien)
For the last time,