26 May 2010

Positive Playlist: Sharpening Spiritual Perception

As I was looking through the playlist of positive songs Kat posted, it occured to me just how much stronger the junior youth empowerment program is for including a media awareness component. There are many songs with messages that can raise the consciousness of young people. And they can play a powerful role in one's personal development. However, as Jason pointed out with the example of Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, and Pink Floyd, some of that music also promotes unhealthy attitudes and lifestyles. This could be an obstacle. But once a group has reached a certain stage in its progress, such ambiguity can easily be changed into opportunities for critical thinking and in-depth consultation.

The strength of the program is not that it's a space for passively absorbing only good influences. Rather its strength is in the capacity it builds in young people to identify for themselves what uplifts the human spirit and what degrades it. And more often than not,  both processes are at work within any given song, film, or TV show. Rage Against the Machine has a deep hunger for social justice. But their aggressive, hyper-masculine approach to activism typically has a destructive impact on the movements fighting for those causes. It's nice that John Mayer is waiting on the world to change. But others of us know that action is needed if that's ever going to happen.

The junior youth program provides a space in which young people can support each other in their investigations of reality. At first, participants don't have all the tools they need to take advantage of such an opportunity. But as their capacities grow, they can dig deeper and deeper into the messages, both open and concealed, being disseminated in the media. Some can drag young people down. Some can be stepping stones to empowerment. Junior youth's capacity to climb those stones grows as they learn to tell the distinguish between the one and the other.

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