Devin Greenleaf

Devin Greenleaf (Jagaran Media Center): Devin developed his business and marketing skills in the private sector before pursuing a BA in English at the University of Utah. His spent his spare time programming the Amnesty International Human Rights Film Festival and teaching language and life skills to immigrants. At the time of his fellowship, Devin was studying for a Master’s degree at American University’s School of International Service, where he researched the intersection of communication and international human rights. Devin was also active in the American University’s Center for Social Media.

I’m not growing old

01 Aug

Two young twenty-somethings illustrated a different facet of the generation gap by sharing a slice of life for Dalit youth in Chitwan. They told me they’d found themselves in a social circle free from the confines of caste, as many of their friends were non-Dalits and cared little for an awkward division they had no part in creating. Though many of their non-Dalit friends would admittedly avoid a parental battle by not bringing them into their homes, caste division was not their doing, and they refused to take ownership.

I thought this was beautiful. Having witnessed the pain this hierarchy inflicts, I was given hope that youth could push caste discrimination through the gap between its proprietors and assailants, toward a lonely graveyard full of shameful practices human being’s inflict on one another. But then these guys said something troubling.

They explained that it was their youth that was currently freeing them from many caste divisions, but they predicted it would change for them and their non-Dalit friends as they got married, got jobs, and got older.

Institutions as part in parcel to a common life as growing up and getting married would bring them back into the norms that inform their society, and back into the caste hierarchy. This made me think about the battles we take up in our youth, and abandon as our circles become smaller, our lives busier, and our contact zones lessened. How divisions of status, race, language and caste seem tamable in the twilight of our idealism, but rear their heads as we take up the more banal fights of adulthood.

I’d never give up the belief that future generations will be the catalysts for social change in Nepal, (and the rest of the world for that matter). But perhaps there is something to gain from acknowledging the mechanics of a generation gap, or more importantly, recognizing that there is something inherent to youth we must maintain in order to continue fighting inequality. We obviously don’t need to be young to know something is wrong or do something about it, but we do need to hold on to that part of us that’s not yet cynical enough to stop fighting.

Posted By Devin Greenleaf

Posted Aug 1st, 2007


  • Leslie

    August 2, 2007


    So true Devin. Several times in the recent years, “adults” have shook their heads at my ideas and thoughts, assuring me that I’ll “grow out” of my idealism. I hope not. Great blog, See you soon!

  • Amy Burrows

    August 7, 2007


    Devin, this blog is amazing. You are a story teller and a beautiful writer. You have brought to light the great barriers in our fight for social change: cynicism, adult responsibility, societal norms…. getting caught up in the stress of our everyday lives. I would also add “embittered.” As I get older and continually inform myself on these issues of social injustice, I find myself becoming bitter… wondering, what can I REALLY do about these vast, global issues. I find myself slipping into that trap of indifference. I think the insight you shared in this blog will be a catalyst that keeps me fighting the good fight. Really amazing, thank you. Looking forward to meeting the man behind this blog!

  • Kristin

    August 14, 2007


    I often wonder about this issue. It was on my mind a lot this past spring when I was dealing with trafficking issues so intensely and seeing other older veterans in action. I’m glad that so many continue to fight, but I saw more than a handful that had lost the drive.

    I think that in addition to age, people begin to reach their limit personally with what they are willing to learn about. A fellow intern actually refused to watch part of the documentary because she said she just couldn’t take any more. Burnout is a real danger.

    I suppose the solution is to stay young at heart and learn to take mental breaks when necessary. I really hope that years from now we are still as passionate about injustice and human rights as we are today.

    Can’t wait to see ya!

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