The only people who can change the future are the ones willing to get their hands dirty. You have the option of living a clean, pristine life, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, you can also invest, challenge yourself, and live a life that’s committed – and messy.
Cord Jefferson, the senior editor of GOOD magazine, shared this and more during the closing keynote for GES 2012. Based on his experiences a writer, editor, ethical consumer, son, and citizen, he spoke to issues of storytelling, crowdsourcing, confidence in yourself and the world, and living an engaged life. As a reporter who focuses on issues of race, politics, and animal rights, he writes what people sometimes do not want to hear – and is challenged to stay invested in his beliefs, when they no longer become convenient or easy.
One of the biggest pieces of advice Cord offered spoke to our role as emerging workers and people in the social change field, workforce, and world. Being young does not mean being stupid, uneducated, unqualified, he said. Age does not always equate to experience or wisdom – it’s just a mark of when your parents procreated. In the new era of 27-year-old CEOs and creative minds like Mark Zuckerberg, young people have a voice. Use it, he said. Work hard, but do not let people take advantage of your youthful spirit. Hold onto that passion.
Live with honor and dignity in the tiny moments, he said. These are the times between public events, intellectual conferences, and projects, where it’s easy to make choices based on convenience, instead of staying true to your beliefs. This proves to be the true test. Cord challenged the audience to make this our measure of ourselves, beyond our professional success, as we all move forward into the post-GES world. There is a common thread between all of us, far beyond the acquaintances we have in common. Our duty, as people, is to find that thread and embrace it.
Here are some photos from Cord’s closing keynote and of delegates talking to him after his address.