My mom asked me an interesting question when I was discussing Tomorrow’s Roundtable with her today. She asked if I could remember moments when I was a child that I felt like I was empowered to have a voice. I started thinking about that, and you know, I can’t really pinpoint a moment. I can remember feeling loved, I can remember feeling listened to and even validated, but was there a moment where I felt like the ideas I had were important to the future of the world? No, not really.
There seems to be a collective understanding that in order to have valuable opinions, you have to be established. Maybe that looks like having money in your bank account, degrees on the wall, or a list of awards to validate artistic expression. Whatever it is that gives you that stamp of approval, having an audible and valued opinion in the age of information isn’t something that many of us experience. Sure, we have our social media worlds where we can tout opinions and express beliefs, but is anyone really listening? Our immediate circle of friends, maybe a few random people who drift in and out of our spheres of influence, but at the end of the day, I know I often feel like one of many voices in vast universe of noises, and I’m an adult. I can only imagine what it would feel like to be a child today. But, what if like in Horton hears a Who!, that small important voice gets a chance to be amplified?
No matter how small. Image from Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss.
That is exactly where the next element of Tomorrow’s Roundtable, our second C, comes into the equation: Celebrity. Such a loaded word in many ways. I know when that part of the project was first explained to me, I raised my eyebrows a bit. I do my very best to stay disconnected from that red carpeted, celebrity worshiping culture that has become a norm in our everyday lives. I’m not saying I haven’t spent more time than I’d like to admit browsing People magazine, because I have. I’m saying that more and more these days, I’m looking for substance, character, and integrity. When I look in that direction, I see a lot of “fluff”.
What does ‘celebrity’ represent, and why is it important to our project? An interesting definition I found for celebrity is, the state of being celebrated. Sure, it means you’re famous, but it also means that the public has decided that you are valuable to the point of being worth celebrating. I never thought I wanted to be a celebrity, but that sounds pretty great.
As I mentioned before, I have mixed feelings about celebrity culture, but there are people out there who we collectively celebrate and who also work to give something back to the world that embrace and celebrate them. I think that’s the exciting part about being a celebrity. You have an opportunity to give back exponentially to the people who contributed to your success, and in many cases, lending one’s voice and speaking for those who don’t have a voice themselves is how it’s done. It means, being a champion.
That is what Tomorrow’s Roundtable is looking for. We are looking for champions. In order for our format to work, the kids need a place held for them at the roundtable so they can express themselves; they also need someone that the world has decided to listen to speaking up for them; they need a Horton. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie star, a musician, an acclaimed author, a well-known blogger, a thought leader, a high-profile business person, or scientist. It can be any voice that has the capability to break through all of the cultural noise enough to amplify the small and important voice of children.
What if you had been given that voice as a child? How would you have felt? I think about where I am today, with a few degrees under my belt, and some accolades that perhaps give me more credit than when I was running around with grass stains on my knees, and you know, I don’t feel very different. The voice inside of me that wants to be heard is in many ways the same voice that has always been with me. And who knows where I might be or what I might have contributed to the world if that voice, no matter how new or small, had been heard?
Tomorrow’s Roundtable is in the second week of our fundraising effort so we can launch the pilot program. We are working around the clock, creating our own opportunity to have a voice. We work hard because we believe that this idea has the ability to do good in the world. And interestingly enough, we are in a position of needing a champion ourselves. Someone whose voice can garner attention and open doors, because at the end of the day, we are like a group of big kids with some novel ideas that might lead to something great.
The wonderful thing is that anyone can be that champion. Sometimes you need a bunch of voices to all say the same thing at once. Other times, you get lucky and that right person comes along and speaks up for you in a way that nobody can ignore—your Horton. We welcome all of that, because this is a project for everyone’s future. I encourage you to take a look at our campaign video and consider how you can help us amplify the voice of children, whose opportunity for a happy and healthy future very well may depend on us coming up with some radical new ideas.
Here’s the link to our campaign. Are you our champion?