Quotes That Fired Us Up in 2022

These words kept us going in the face of challenges all year long.

13 mins read

When we face personal challenges, we go to the people we trust for comfort and advice. Similarly, when we face challenges as a nation, it’s only natural to look to current and former leaders for hope, inspiration, and ideas for how to overcome and continue improving. We asked Kidizenship’s Teen Advisory Board–a group of teens ages 11-18 from across the country who care about civic engagement and create educational content for Kidizenship–to tell us which quotes they feel speak to them as young people and inspire them to work toward a better nation and democracy.

We hope these quotes inspire you going into 2023, too.

Harleen, 16

“Young people must have their voices heard at all times. We cannot not be passive participants in the conversations about our future. We must get active and create the future the way we want it.”

Edem Agbana (Ghanian education activist, co-founder of United Volunteers Network, one of Ghana’s top 60 rising young leaders)

To create the future we are envisioning, we need to become active citizens in our society. We need to get involved in local politics, vote in elections, and educate others about current events! By putting ourselves out there, we are amplifying our voices. Our ideas and opinions matter and have the power to make a difference, big or small. If we want to make any progress toward our goal of a better future, we must be willing to ask questions, learn new things, challenge the precedent, and use our platform to make an impact. 

Julia, 14

“As Harvard students with glittering careers ahead of us and sparkling degrees, then we could make a difference. So we need people to hold a camera to share their stories, to do editing and sound, to stand in a big group and say ‘it gets better’; no contribution is too small.”

James Croft (LGBTQ+ and Humanist rights activist), anti-homophobia rally

This quote resonated with me deeply in a different way than a lot of others have because despite Croft speaking specifically to the Harvard students he was standing with, what he says is directly applicable to all students and young people around the world. It may not seem like much to pull out your phone and record the injustices you’ve seen, but these seemingly small acts are oftentimes the ones that make the largest impacts. This is even more central now as Gen Z really has become the first generation with such immediate access to social media platforms and we often forget the fact that they can have such large scale effects on the people, and this is a great reminder. 

Graham, 17

“I have seen spirit in our young people, who are more educated and more tolerant, and more inclusive and more diverse, and more creative than our generation who are more empathetic and compassionate towards their fellow human beings than previous generations.”

Barack Obama (former President), United Nations General Assembly

At the United Nations General Assembly convention, Obama emphasizes the specific qualities and uniqueness of our youth. We, young people, are growing up in an era united in diversity and empathy. We recognize the inequities and injustices of our society but maintain a collective hope for progress. In a new age of technology, our generation is more connected than any generation in history. This new sense of interconnectedness and exposure has bred tolerance and empathy amongst our youth. It is these qualities that give me hope for our future. 

Sam, 11

“There is always light, if only you are brave enough to see it. If only you are brave enough to be it.”

Amanda Gorman (Inaugural poet for President Joe Biden and former National Youth Poet Laureate), The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman captivated millions of people watching on TV in 2021 during the inauguration of President Biden and VP Harris with her poetry, showing others to be the positive energy we need to see in the world. She semi-recently published a new book as a collection of her poetry. These words have captured the hearts of many throughout the pandemic and other hardships over the past couple of years. All in all, Gorman’s words make us strive to be better people, and inspire us to live happier, more positive lives.

Sophia, 16

“I was raised by a single mother who also happened to be an English teacher, and she always taught me the power of words and language.. I think literacy is not just how we become better people, but it’s how we become more active members of society and of our global community because it gives each of us a voice and the capacity to understand.”

Amanda Gorman, NPR Interview

I feel that Amanda Gorman encapsulates the role that youth play in our society. Considering the major issues that we’ve faced in these recent years, it’s especially important for younger people to step up and make a difference. Kids often feel that they don’t have a place to express their opinions, much less make a change. By reminding us that we have the power to make an impact, Gorman ultimately empowers and inspires younger generations. Despite there being substantial obstacles to face, our generation and those in the future can and will rise together, if we only collaborate and take action to do so.

Jordyne, 16

“Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something.”

Tarana Burke (Founder of the #MeToo movement), Full Power of Women speech

This quote really resonates with me as I feel that Burke captured the idea that we should not be bystanders, but leaders. For youth today, it might seem discouraging that with everything going on, you can make a difference. You might say to yourself, “Someone else will do something about it.” Instead of rising up and taking charge, we hope that someone else will fix it. But what if no one does anything to fix it? We will be stuck in a loop of no change occurring at all. With this quote, I encourage youth to stand up and say that “I will be that change. I will be that someone else.” I am asking that if you see an issue, brainstorm and think about something you can do to help change it- and if you can, do it! It is time to create the change ourselves- and not wait on others to do it for us. It only takes one to start a movement- and I urge you to be that person.

Aria, 14

“In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong person, underreact, overreact, hurt the people who didn’t deserve it, overthink, not think at all, self-sabotage, create a reality where only your experience exists, ruin perfectly good moments for yourself and others, deny any wrongdoing, not take the steps to make it right, feel very guilty, let the guilt eat at you, hit rock bottom, finally address the pain you caused, try to do better next time, rinse, repeat. I’m trying to tell you that losing things doesn’t just mean losing. A lot of the time, when we lose things, we gain things too.”

Taylor Swift (Singer), New York University commencement speech

Taylor reminds us that striving for perfection is not the answer. Humans aren’t perfect. Democracy isn’t perfect. Our country isn’t perfect. Mistakes are as inevitable: They can be small and harmless, but sometimes saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can make it feel like your whole world has been flipped upside down. Taylor tells us making mistakes is part of the price of life–They’re what led to the invention of plastic and penicillin and to the start of new friendships, and funny stories. Likewise, the mistakes made by our government leadership can also lead to progress; more engaged citizens, more vibrant national conversation about who we are and what we believe, and ultimately a stronger, more unified democracy.

Adriana, 17

“I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children.”

Senator Raphael Warnock (US Senator representing Georgia), victory speech

Voting is an integral piece of our democracy, and it allows citizens’ voices to be heard to advance and build our future. It’s easy for children to be seen as powerless in the system of democracy, which is another reason why voting is so important. Every time our parents vote or our older friends vote, they are helping pave a pathway for us to have legislators and leaders with our best interests at heart in the present and future. It is one of the main ways that adults can be our accomplices in this fight!

Evie, advisor

“So many of the big, contentious political issues right now center around kids. Should teachers be allowed to teach about racism, history, sexuality? Will stricter gun laws keep our kids safe in school? Would more aggressive climate policies keep them safer in the future? Which ones? All these policy debates that we’ve been having for months, that are so central to American politics right now, affect kids more than anyone else.”

Chana Joffe-Walt (Radio journalist and producer), “This American Life

As Chana explains, so many of the conversations our lawmakers have surround children–But what do children have to say about these issues? If our decisions impact young people, it’s all the more important to have them included in the conversation. That’s exactly why spaces like Kidizenship, Watch Us Rise, and the Teen Advisory Board are so important: They are spaces where kids and teens can share their views and ideas on the most important issues of today.

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