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You, the young people of today, are the most privileged people who have ever lived on Earth. For the first time in history, one generation—your generation—holds the key to the greatest challenge humans have faced since they became conscious of themselves and the world. It’s the challenge of change: timely change.

The world your fathers and forefathers have created is no longer sustainable. This means that if it doesn’t change, it will break down. It cannot keep going as it is.

Financial crisis and climate change are just the most visible of the many untenable conditions in the world. Urban overcrowding, the breakdown of the health of vast populations, violence as a response to social injustice, and war waged to secure economic and political interests are additional threats on the horizon. Catastrophes resulting from commercially motivated reliance on inherently dangerous technologies are others.

We are seven billion humans on the planet. How many of us will survive the next twenty years? Or the next ten? And if some of us go under, how will the rest manage, given our interdependence and our ability to wipe out vast populations and entire ecosystems at the push of a button?

If the world continues its downhill slide, and if the mindset of the holders of power do not change in time, there will be a holocaust from which no one will emerge unscathed.

But why do you, the young people of today, hold the key to creating real change?

The answer to this question is straightforward. You were born at exactly the right time to catalyze change in the world, at the time when change is not only necessary, but is also feasible.

The powerful fear and resist change, and they do everything in their power to maintain the system that brought them to power. But they can no longer resist change effectively. The world—their world—is in crisis. And crisis, as the ancient Chinese knew, is both danger and opportunity.

The danger is breakdown, and that will surely happen if we do not change. But the opportunity is to change—to change before the breakdown.

In the transitory condition of a “worldshift” the old is in crisis and we can overcome the barriers that protect it. In today’s unstable conditions even seemingly minor and marginal movements can catalyze major change. This is the famous “butterfly effect,” the effect that always appears in conditions at the edge of chaos.

You can be the butterfly that brings in change. Flap your wings and create the tornado that wipes away the old and brings in the new.

You, the young people of the world, have an opportunity that no generation ever had before you. This is the opportunity to innovate: to create a world that can sustain seven billion and more in peace and wellbeing. Such a world is possible, but whether it will be our world depends on you—and nothing and nobody but you.

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Ervin Laszlo is Founder and President of The Club of Budapest, Chancellor of the Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University, Founder and Director of the General Evolution Research Group, Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member of the International Academy of Philosophy of Science, Senator of the International Medici Academy, and Editor of the international periodical World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution. He is the author or co-author of fifty-four books translated into as many as twenty-two languages, and the editor of another thirty volumes including a four-volume encyclopedia.

Laszlo has a PhD from the Sorbonne and is the recipient of four honorary PhD's (from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Hungary). He received the Peace Prize of Japan, the Goi Award in Tokyo in 2002, and the International Mandir of Peace Prize in Assisi in 2005. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and was re-nominated in 2005.

Formerly Professor of Philosophy, Systems Science, and Futures Studies in various universities in the US, Europe, and the Far East, Laszlo lectures worldwide. He presently lives in a three hundred year-old converted farmhouse in Tuscany..

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