This past June 15, we celebrated the 800th year, anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Our modern day individual rights and liberties started that long ago day at Runnymede, England. We owe a lot to the barons who revolted against an unpopular King, King John.
The Great Charter of Liberties, preserved and protected church rights. The agreement set a limit on taxes and rules regarding illegal imprisonment and a speedy trial were set and became part of English common law and eventually part of America’s view of justice.
What was stirring and inspiring during 2015, was to watch and listen to the elected youths of England in their youth Parliament as 12 of them eloquently said for all to hear why the Magna Carta was important to them and still relevant today.
We in the United States could learn a lot by the example of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament. The age range of those elected are between the ages of 11 and 18. About 500,000 young people throughout the United Kingdom take part in electing their representatives from different parts of the United Kingdom.
I had the great pleasure of watching on C-Span and hearing 12 of these spokes persons speak to their nation and the world, about the importance of the Magna Carta. I was struck by their eloquence. I have great hope that England’s future is well in hand with such brilliance. It is interesting and worth noting that 11 of the 12 were young women. This fact speaks to the ever increasing reality that with the future the role of women in public life will be increasing.
The Speaker of the House of Commons oversaw the program and could not help but notice the wisdom and brilliance of those young persons who spoke that day on the floor of the House.
What England does is to encourage their youth to understand how their system of government works, and offers them an opportunity at a young age to participate in their democracy. England can only flourish in the future by having this educational opportunity be part of their political system.
America should emulate this idea and do something very similar. We could only benefit as a nation by having a similar program. In an age when civics is not taught in some quarters, a process which would bring about such a participatory program for our youth can only help our Republic be strong. America will only be as strong as our youth will be in our future. We need to have the best and the brightest be part of our government. Public service is an honorable calling. Let us help to train our youth for the difficult times that we may face as a nation in our future.