International Observance: Religion, Technology & Youth Day

THURSDAY, AUGUST 12: Texting, Tweeting and Facebook have taken the world by storm, and today we recognize these primary ways that Generation Y communicates, on International Youth Day. For 10 years, the UN has marked a day to celebrate the importance of youth contribution to society, but this year’s youth day—with a theme of “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”—is a little bit different. Right in the middle of the 2010 International Year of Youth, the UN is looking at how youth communicate, the necessity of youth dialogue and just how to build those—very digital—bridges.

Just as the world’s 1.8 billion youth affect society’s communication, they also affect the future of religion—and sometimes, technology even joins in as the third part of this equation. According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Generation Y Americans believe in God. (Wikipedia has more on Generation Y.) To get back in touch with the world’s youth, the Catholic Church is putting Pope Benedict XVI—an 82-year-old leader who still writes his speeches by hand—into the digital hotseat. (An article appeared in Bloomberg.) As was reported at the end of last year, the Pope debuted on YouTube and MySpace. Last year’s Christmas Mass was also podcast.

Other religions are reaching out to youth in various ways, too. Last month, thousands of young people gathered at the Rock the Era concert in Philadelphia, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai International USA Buddhist Lay Organization in America. (Read more at The Examiner.) Several Jewish programs are offered every year to young people interested in visiting Israel to explore their heritage (more than 10 programs are offered by the Jewish Agency For Israel alone), and Hindu youths are gathering together in protest against interfaith intolerance. (The Deccan Herald reported.)

If you’re wondering what you can do to observe International Youth Day, try these suggestions from the UN: contact radio stations and suggest a youth discussion; organize a public meeting for discussion of young people’s contributions; or organize a concert to promote International Youth Day. In honor of the International Year of Youth, a photo exhibit entitled “Visual Voices—Youth Perspective on Global Issues” will be on display in the UN visitors lobby through early September.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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