The 5th Youth Forum of the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD), Belgrade and United Nations-mandated University for Peace is orchestrating this Happening in Belgrade, 28-29 October 2017. The ECPD is on course for Balkan Youth to undergo a regional and European eclipse. It will follow a rare solar summer eclipse that darkens a large part of the earth. However, as Youth turns out in Belgrade, a new day dawns for the rising moon of Youth as it noses up the socioeconomic agenda. We can make it truly regional and much more so! Know that only YOU can make it happen. If YOU come to Belgrade, it will happen. We await YOU in Belgrade, the decision is YOURS!

When the moon passes completely in front of the sun [solar] or the Earth comes between the Sun and the Full Moon [lunar] an eclipse occurs. From time to time where ever we are, we may see one. Where ever we live we alternate between day and night; light and dark, waking and sleeping each 24 hours. Our life has a circadian rhythm imposed on it and we dance between light and shadow. The earth takes a spin; we face the sun during our day; on its opposite side, darkness prevails. day and night have equal durations, once per year. This incredible kind of balanced equality is as fleeting as population equality as is the dramatic inequality of children and young people, some in their own back gardens but mostly scattered around the globe.

In one circle of the moon round the earth, a lunar month occurs and we are enchanted by its progressive phases; new moon to full, and back again to new, framed by four quarters; blood moon with a total lunar eclipse; blue moon, devil moon, the moon and sixpence. Then we have political moonshine and bootleg moonshine. As the sun sets in the west and at the time of the new moon, the rotating earth seems to make the thin slivered crescent fall back towards the earth; as eastern sunrise arrives, the waxing crescent moon is on the rise to fade from sight with the light of day and travels unseen across the sky in the company of the sun; two chariots of mythology, the sun of light and vision.

It takes the earth one year at breakneck speed to trace out an elliptical orbit around the sun giving rise to the procession of the four seasons and inspiration for great music. Earth and fellow traveling planets make up our planetary system; depending on distance from the sun they have either a shorter or a longer year. Life expectation can be short [infant mortality] or have longevity both driven by human conditions. The planets are driven by the laws of motion propounded by Newton and are held in dynamic equilibrium by gravitational forces. The whole system behaves with amazing regularity and with an astonishing simple complexity. Not so with the transaction of a Youth Forum. Order must be imposed and its complexity simplified. Making a Youth Forum happen on an annual basis is a tough assignment, even for the ECPD.

In our vast universe, our Earth is the size of an exquisitely colored marble but with massive problems; famine, war and suffering. An iceberg large enough to sink a 1000 Titanic ocean going liners recently broke away from its south polar anchor while nuclear weapons have the potential to fragment the earth. A century ago an asteroid ripped into Siberia. Today we have climate change and global warming.

We do not yet know what forces propel youth forward. Opportunity however, can bring out a young person’s outer and inner smile. Education is a great booster. We know that not having an education or not being able to find a job holds them back as does their growing distrust of democracy and authority’s suppression of dignity. We know that if the family has to deal with a sudden calamity it can be destroyed.

The upcoming event, the 5th ECPD Youth Forum provides an instrument to discuss problem solving within a problem space staggering from inequality, societies in crisis, weakening of democratic values and political attempts to place climate change within the realm of fable. The biggest impact of climate change will be on population health, including the wellbeing of tomorrow’s youth, the children born today. My challenge to you in Belgrade is to write a poem in the tradition of a lamentation written in Nineveh. It referred to the sinking of a ship following an eclipse. It was the bringer of suffering and of bread with captain full of heart and soul but with no more power after the shipwreck. our Belgrade poem could focus on man’s accumulated knowledge, which far outstrips his understanding. Reducing this asymmetry with the crucial help of youth can reduce the ongoing active destruction of man’s habitat the planet Earth undermining survival; no more to marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the new moon over the Needles, and the splendor of the night sky; no more hope to find a bottle in its waterways with a new message.

Youth’s mindset of concern cries out that there is little time left to look back while much greater effort is needed to reshape its future alternative goals and ways of living. If you are, or even feel you are between 18 and 35, come to Belgrade and help nurture a new generation of Youth leaders capable of exerting additional influence on political structures. Help develop citizenship, civic and civil practices and the cultivation of a better sense of true belonging. Come prepared! Engage! Interact! Make new friends! Connect!

Have fun in Belgrade as only Youth can! Help forge an alternative future closer to a youthful heart’s desire. Your day will come don’t wait too long. As in the student prince a song says golden days, in the sunshine of a happy youth… life has nothing sweeter than its springtime. Unfortunately, such golden days are not for all! In Belgrade let’s turn up youth’s sotto voce into a vibrant heldentenor voice. Let’s also imagine that Celso Albelo and Andrea Bocelli will be there!

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