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Henry Rollins shares a few words of advice for the poorest youth of America.

You know those cliché, "You can do it, kid!" youth PSAs? He doesn't do those.

Henry Rollins shares a few words of advice for the poorest youth of America.
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Growing up in a small East Texas town, I felt shrouded from an expanse of the pop culture landscape, and premium smut like MTV was pretty hard to come by.

But on a family trip in the early '90s, my cousin offered me a moment of rebellion. She flipped on MTV, and there was the Rollins Band.


On stage, Henry Rollins looked like Bruce Banner post-metamorphosis, barefoot and shirtless but screaming as if he were channeling that Hulk-smash rage toward the status quo.

I was floored. And uplifted. All at once.

Rollins also once belted anti-authoritarian anthems as frontman for legendary punk band Black Flag. The context of punk is always changing, but the unshakeable core of punk music and art is about working-class struggles and the fight against oppression — something a lot of people can identify with today, given our unprecedented levels of inequality. And while Rollins would later forsake music, the noble call of punk continues to guide his work as a writer, philosopher, and media maker.

Today, Rollins is still challenging young people to think beyond convention and to believe they can shape the world around them. He's just doing it a little more ... quietly. But I still hear him loud and clear.

The world is not a fair place. But you already know that.

Rollins isn't interested in doling out weightless encouragement. Life is hard and unequal. It's important for young people to be aware of that...

...but not be discouraged by it.

Because success, fulfillment, greatness, and heroism can't be bought.

And in that pursuit, one of the biggest pitfalls we have to navigate is succumbing to anything but the strength of our inner goodness.

We can all be leaders. We have to all be leaders. Our worth as a species now more than ever kind of demands that.

Being a true leader, being the vanguard of positive change, is not beyond any of us. We can all do it in our own ways. But we have to be driven by something truly worthy.


So what's driving you?

When the "Me Too" movement exploded a few years ago, the ubiquitousness of women's sexual harassment and assault experiences became painfully clear. What hasn't always been as clear is role that less overt, more subtle creepiness plays in making women feel uncomfortable or unsafe as they move through the world, often starting from a young age.

Thankfully—and unfortunately—a viral video from a teen TikToker illustrates exactly what that looks like in real-time when a man came and sat down with her while she was doing a live video. He asked if the chair at her table was taken, and she said no, thinking he wanted to take it to another table. Instead, he sat down and started talking to her. You can see in her face and in her responses that she's weirded out, though she's trying not to appear rude or paranoid.

The teen said in a separate TikTok video that the man appeared to be in his 30s. Definitely too old to be pulling up a chair with someone so young who is sitting by herself, and definitely old enough to recognize that she was uncomfortable with the situation.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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