Michael Moritz: Young Westporters Must Be Active World Citizens

Michael Moritz is a 2014 graduate of Staples High School. Now a senior at Ithaca College, he’s a member of its Futures Club. Many Westporters will automatically assume that means money and markets.

Nope. Ithaca’s Futures Club members are social activists who focus on the ideals of empathy, perspective-taking, and mindfulness. Members believe young people have the power to challenge and change the future.

This turbulent summer, Michael reflected on his home town, his college community, and the broader, outside-the-bubble world. He writes:

Growing up here, Staples High School put me and my peers in a position that we never second guessed. It is not until we reach out of our Westport world that we see human life through a new lens.

That is when we notice serious differences in the quality of life across our country. Most families in Westport can afford health care. Yet our new health care system proposed leaving more than 20 million Americans without basic health care plans.

In Westport we have the choice of Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market or nice restaurants on the river. Yet food deserts exist all over our country — places where fresh food and groceries cannot be found.

Some local supermarkets’ food looks too good to eat. Not far from Westport are food deserts.

Staples High School is amazing. But most American public education is not like ours. We should acknowledge American society is wrestling with these institutional imbalances, along with racism, hatred, violent acts and climate destruction — among many other deep-rooted issues we are working through.

I love Westport. Peace and beauty are two words that help me describe my home place.

I acknowledge it represents a very small part of American life. It may hurt to have this conversation, and we might be tempted to turn away from it. But we are privileged — at the expense of most people of our country, who can’t have what we have.

At Staples High School, we did not talk about this elephant in the room. Our facilities are extremely nice. But what about in inner city Bridgeport? And do we care?

Staples does not look like many high schools.

I see 2 divides. One is economic. The other is racial. But they work together to create a violent monster of America that privileges a very small percentage of citizens, and leaves the rest in the dust.

The median income for white people in our country is $60,250; for black people it is $35,400. The same study found that 26% of black people live in poverty. The percentage for whites is 10%. In other categories — including household wealth, home ownership and unemployment — whites are also favored.

Then there is human-induced climate destruction to our planet. If we continue using fossil fuels as we do now, all major cities in our country that are anywhere close to water will be under water by 2050. The world is dying way, way faster than any climate change model ever predicted.

Are solar panels just too expensive? As it turns out, we now see a potential plan for panels to be installed at the high school.

Michael Moritz

If you are struck by this, know that parents and students of Westport can — and in some ways are expected to — change our country, so that all people of all skin colors are included and valued in the quality of life that we enjoy in our privileged bubble.

The way we do that is by being socially active. That is the route through which we can bring justice, equality and inclusion to all parts of our country.

Where does this leave us kids from Westport? Right in the middle of it. Those in the most privileged situations have an amazing amount of influence over how our world will look in the coming years. I’m talking about myself, my friends and you or your children in the Westport public schools.

Here’s what you can do, as a young citizen of Westport and the world: Practice and live empathy, perspective taking and mindfulness. Spend less time on your phone.

The next step: Decide to have a gentle inquiry on what your school and town is doing to make the world a better place. That means asking your school. Call Town Hall. Talk to people until you get to the person you can talk to about whatever issue may be on your mind.

Whether it is “what is Westport doing to cut carbon emissions and become more renewable and sustainable?” or any other issue: Ask. Keep asking.

I will do my part, alongside you.

15 responses to “Michael Moritz: Young Westporters Must Be Active World Citizens

  1. Bravo, Mike! Sending hugs!

  2. Lori Winthrop Dockser

    #westportproud. Westporters from their homes and Our schools do an amazing job teaching social responsibility to our children… so many like micheal have grown and flown to reflect the best of this town. Thanks dan for sharing!

  3. Way to go Michael! Very proud of you. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.

  4. Well said, Mike.

  5. After reading Mori’s narrative, I wonder how open minded he is.

    “Meetings include the approach of the following:
    Perspective taking
    Open mindedness
    Practice of empathy
    Practice of listening”

  6. Thank you Michael for caring and sharing, Please keep asking questions such as WHY and WHAT IF.
    In Westport there are two clubs, Westport Rotary and Westport Sunrise Rotary that every week join with over a million Rotarians in 35,000 clubs around the world in saying ….
    The Rotary Four-Way Test
    Of the things we think, say or do
    1. Is it the TRUTH?
    2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
    4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
    We find these 32 words and four questions to be a useful guide in everyday life, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.
    Moreover it reinforces the comments of others, such as Michaal Petrino.

  7. Lisa Marie Alter

    I see hope for the future when I hear our young people like Michael Mori express their views: desiring greater human equality, efforts to respect our environment and a consciousness of others’ less fortunate circumstances –and being proactive to finding solutions to these problems that affect us all.

    Thank you, Michael Mori for sharing your ideals… I support you.

    Sadly, it is apparent that the idealism of the “Youth Quake” of the last century bypassed a certain segment of 06880 Commenters. 🙄

    Lisa Marie Alter

  8. Ellen Lautenberg

    Bravo on your thinking about these issues Mike! I will encourage my kids to do the same. The naysayers should acknowledge the fact that a 21 year old is even thinking about these things, not pretending to solve the world’s problems, but if all our kids would think this way we would be closer to solving some of them.

  9. So much of what he said is right on! We need our countries leaders to adapt to much of what he said, and as for the phone comment it is both a blessing and a curse! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Cathartic article. feels like the only purpose is so moritz can wear the SJW seal of approval and feel as though he is making a difference. He states the obvious over and over.

    A lazy piece of writing that is a wash in the sea of similar articles written by white, privileged children, wishing to place themselves on the “correct” side of 2017.

    Instead of rambling about what is the right thing to do, just get out of the dorm room and actually do something. the action should be the important thing, not the recognition you receive for sharing the popular viewpoint on issues.

  11. Excellent!! Let us know how we can help.