Back to My Homepage

Back to My Resource Page

My Sixteenth Newsletter

31 December 2001

It has been almost three months since I last wrote a newsletter. The growing crises throughout our world have, frankly, overwhelmed me and though I have been reading, collecting article after article and have drafted this newsletter many times attempting to get it right, I have found myself wondering where to start and where to go. Like so many of us, I simply could not find my place.

So, on this last day of quite a year, I am starting with the indecision. The resolutions are ostensibly for tomorrow, the first day of a New Year, but the uncertainty will continue and we must face it today.

Today we are still far from resolution of the new terrorism. Today the blastwaves of September 11 - the loss of so many citizens of the world, most yes from the United States but many not - continue to alter our normality even as families and futures and the hopes of many of us vanished into the abyss of Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania.

Still the questions of causation and future prevention remain unanswered. Still we are finding the approaches that make a proper balance between conservative, moderate and progressive response to September 11. We are learning a new vocabulary and a new world definition from "homeland security" to the cultural information coming fast and furious.

And what does each directive, legislative or presidential decree mean in terms of our safety, our democracy, our civil rights, and our humanity? No longer can we debate in a "what if" mode. Our decisions are in real time and with real results. If wrong, they could be catastrophic. Even if right, their long term effect bears consideration.

We have developed travel phobia making us more insular and protective at a time when we need to expand. And no matter how much we are encouraged to spend, for many of us, it seems unseemly and actually foolhardy not to conserve in this precarious time.

Our strength is that we do go on. We continue with the good deeds that we do for each other. We can praise ourselves that overall, instead of descending to scapegoat generalizations, we have become more educated and respectful of our fellow citizens and those among us who feel different. We have developed a better understanding of different religions and philosophies and most importantly, a sense of others in this world.

As Americans we have been frighteningly ignorant of others and their cultures for far too long and although it took a tragedy, it is important that we honor those who have died by becoming better persons as a result of their fate.

And yes, there is a rise in national spirit, a flag-waving and anthem-singing that even some of our less openly patriotic citizens have engaged in heartily. Just understand that true patriotism signifies an investment in engagement that goes far beyond the addition of flag to the car, home or store or even, a temporary joining in crisis. It means understanding the conflicts, debates, compromises and resolutions that engaged active individuals entered into to create and maintain the strong union in which we now live. It means being aware of our many concerns and working, each of us in our own way, to find paths toward change.

For 2002, we have many outstanding issues in addition to September 11 and its aftermath that we must think about in the next year, if not always, including those of the environment; of the War on Youth and the need for greater educational and career opportunities; of protection of our civil liberties; of governmental concerns from the balance of power to the need for electoral reform and greater citizen participation; or of the economy and the issues of corporate globalization, or economic stimulation. There will be many more to come. Like my own experience these past few months, we can become overwhelmed by the magnitude of what was already necessary for us to do and what now is required in a changed world.

For the New Year, it is enough to promise to keep abreast and focused on concerns around you. Educate yourself and act. This 2002 congressional election year is a good time to make yourself heard.

Let us all go forward in peace and knowledge, kindness, patience and resolve for a better future for us all here and throughout the world. It can be done but it takes all of us to be engaged and active. Let us resolve then that this is what we do.

For those new to this newsletter, I am the author of TEEN POWER POLITICS:MAKE YOURSELF HEARD, an issue-oriented book for young Americans on civic and political activism. Engagement is integral to our democracy and youth and young voters - citizens and residents already - definitely have the voice, power, intelligence, sense of justice, passion and energy to give the benefit of their participation right now. My website and this newsletter provide updates on current issues along with resources for change.

And, although you are receiving a mercifully and uncharacteristically short newsletter, I just cannot resist adding at least one activism link to start the new year for, as I am writing, my friends at have just sent me news of a new site,, urging all of us to take the Patriot's Energy Pledge, launching tomorrow and aimed at reducing the U.S. dependence on oil.

A far better New Year to you all. Sara Jane Boyers

Check out TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD and its companion website, TPP was written as a guide and a tool for service, advocacy and activism. Again, PLEASE let me know of a concern or activity you would like me talk about. And send this on to others and suggest that they e-mail me if they would like to be added to this list (or if they wish to be removed).

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list.

Sara Jane Boyers
A Millbrook Press/Twenty-First Century Book
ISBN: 0-7613-1391-5 paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-7613-1307-9 hardcover,$25.90
VOYA's Nonfiction Honor List/BankStreet's "Best Books of 2001"
-LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME Stewart, Tabori & Chang
A Publisher's Weekly "Best Book" of the Year, NYPL "Best Books for Teens", ALA "Book for Reluctant Readers", AIGA "50 Best Designed Books"

2001 Sara Jane Boyers