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  • Hammerstein Ballroom 311 W 34th St New York, NY 10001 (map)

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A discussion on youth alienation and the need for education in the wake of the Newtown and Boston tragedies with Fr. José MEDINA, teacher and U.S. coordinator of Communion and Liberation, and Pedro NOGUERA, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University.

It is undeniable that the “tyranny” of fashion, the feeling of being estranged from oneself, the atrophy of desire are common threads among young generations. There is also a sense that juvenile violence, from bullying to the extreme of school shooting, is escalating. What are the roots of this often-blind violence? What might these recurring acts of violence reveal about human nature? What role can education play as a response to the current situation?

Already in 1987, Msgr. Luigi Giussani was speaking about youth alienation in these terms:

“I observe a difference between the current generation of youth and the one I met thirty years ago. The difference lies in a weakness in the realm of awareness, a weakness that is not ethical, but concerns the dynamism of the awareness. […] It is as if the youth of today were victims of a kind of Chernobyl nuclear explosion: their organism remains structurally the same but dynamically it is different. There has been a sort of physiological subjugation operated by a dominant mentality. It is as if the only real evidence in reality is what is in fashion, and fashion is a concept and an instrument of power. Never before has the environment — understood as mental climate and way of life — had at its disposal instruments of such invasive and despotic power over our consciences […] Our surroundings, the dominant mentality, the all-invasive culture […] cause us to feel estranged from ourselves. So we remain, on the one hand, abstracted in the relationship with ourselves and emotionally discharged (like batteries that last for minutes instead of hours); and on the other hand, by contrast, we try to find shelter in the “community […] The program of the dominant culture is to reduce the person […] to suffocate and reduce the desires, almost to atrophy their originating source.”