Excerpt from JCYC Up Close Winter 2019 Happy New Year! The beginning of the year, always seems to bring with it a fresh start and the prospect of new beginnings. I certainly share this sentiment, but like many, cannot help but be distracted by the tumultuous state of our country. As a young person growing up, I never thought much about what it meant to live in a democracy. For so many years I always took for granted the values of America. It somehow seemed inexplicably logical that people should have a say in their leadership and the policies they support. I was never much of a political science buff and the whole notion didn’t particularly peak my interest. However, the idea that we have a system of government that has checks and balances was somehow comforting and I always felt content to live in the nation where no one, not even a President, was above our democracy. Today, the political rhetoric can be difficult to stomach. All the finger pointing and blame taking place in our country is enough to make many turn off the news or shut down their social media accounts. When you take a step back from all of the shouting, one must seriously consider the extent to which our democracy is in peril. Some might find this sentiment overstated, but if we objectively look at the “facts”, many would conclude that we are indeed living in dangerous times. I recently came across an excerpt from a book titled, “How Democracies Die” written by Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. Upon researching the historical rise and fall of democracies, they have concluded that there are three common characteristics: 1) the free press is harassed; 2) oligarchies are empowered; and 3) scapegoats are formulated and a crisis of some sort is manufactured. Why is a non-profit Executive Director wading into a conversation about threats to this country’s democracy? Shouldn’t a new year’s message focus on hope and promise? I am focusing on this topic because I believe this country is once again on the road to correcting itself. This past November, I was stunned and delighted to see young and old boasting about exercising their right to vote. Mid-term elections do not typically produce much enthusiasm from our electorate. The 2014 mid-terms had the lowest voter turnout since 1942. But, this time was different. America seemed to recognize that we’ve been asleep at the wheel and voter participation was the highest in the past 50 years. At JCYC we’ve made civic engagement a priority. We’ve incorporated voter education in all of our high school programs and our goal is to make sure every participant registers to vote before moving on from our programs. I have often shared, that I believe this country can learn a great deal from listening to the voices of our youth. I was moved to see so many young people expressing pride in their “I Voted” stickers or taking selfies while standing in line to vote. As we enter this new year, let us move forward with hope and prepare ourselves and our young people to continue this momentum. Let this new year be the moment when we recommit ourselves to standing up against those who are trying to tear down this country’s values. Let us re-commit to civil liberties and resisting the scapegoating of targeted groups. And let us re-commit ourselves to what actually makes this country great, a thriving and fully embraced democracy. Sincerely, Jon Osaki To download a complete version of JCYC Up Close Winter 2019, click here.

A Message from the Executive Director

NAVIGATION
JCYC’S SOCIAL MEDIA
ADDRESS 2012 Pine Street San Francisco, CA 94115
CONTACT info@jcyc.org Tel:  (415) 202-7900 Fax: (415) 346-1948
NAVIGATION
JCYC’S SOCIAL MEDIA
ADDRESS 2012 Pine Street San Francisco, CA 94115
CONTACT info@jcyc.org Tel:  (415) 202-7900 Fax: (415) 921-1841

A Message from the

Executive Director

Excerpt from JCYC Up Close Winter 2019 Happy New Year! The beginning of the year, always seems to bring with it a fresh start and the prospect of new beginnings. I certainly share this sentiment, but like many, cannot help but be distracted by the tumultuous state of our country. As a young person growing up, I never thought much about what it meant to live in a democracy. For so many years I always took for granted the values of America. It somehow seemed inexplicably logical that people should have a say in their leadership and the policies they support. I was never much of a political science buff and the whole notion didn’t particularly peak my interest. However, the idea that we have a system of government that has checks and balances was somehow comforting and I always felt content to live in the nation where no one, not even a President, was above our democracy. Today, the political rhetoric can be difficult to stomach. All the finger pointing and blame taking place in our country is enough to make many turn off the news or shut down their social media accounts. When you take a step back from all of the shouting, one must seriously consider the extent to which our democracy is in peril. Some might find this sentiment overstated, but if we objectively look at the “facts”, many would conclude that we are indeed living in dangerous times. I recently came across an excerpt from a book titled, “How Democracies Die” written by Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. Upon researching the historical rise and fall of democracies, they have concluded that there are three common characteristics: 1) the free press is harassed; 2) oligarchies are empowered; and 3) scapegoats are formulated and a crisis of some sort is manufactured. Why is a non-profit Executive Director wading into a conversation about threats to this country’s democracy? Shouldn’t a new year’s message focus on hope and promise? I am focusing on this topic because I believe this country is once again on the road to correcting itself. This past November, I was stunned and delighted to see young and old boasting about exercising their right to vote. Mid-term elections do not typically produce much enthusiasm from our electorate. The 2014 mid-terms had the lowest voter turnout since 1942. But, this time was different. America seemed to recognize that we’ve been asleep at the wheel and voter participation was the highest in the past 50 years. At JCYC we’ve made civic engagement a priority. We’ve incorporated voter education in all of our high school programs and our goal is to make sure every participant registers to vote before moving on from our programs. I have often shared, that I believe this country can learn a great deal from listening to the voices of our youth. I was moved to see so many young people expressing pride in their “I Voted” stickers or taking selfies while standing in line to vote. As we enter this new year, let us move forward with hope and prepare ourselves and our young people to continue this momentum. Let this new year be the moment when we recommit ourselves to standing up against those who are trying to tear down this country’s values. Let us re-commit to civil liberties and resisting the scapegoating of targeted groups. And let us re-commit ourselves to what actually makes this country great, a thriving and fully embraced democracy. Sincerely, Jon Osaki To download a complete version of JCYC Up Close Winter 2019, click here.