Youth Solo Sailing must not be outlawed

As the search begins for Abby Sunderland some 3,000 km south west of Perth, there are likely many people saying, “Well, that goes to show, teenagers shouldn’t be doing this.” Even if Abby Sunderland is never found, it would be gravely wrong for governments to be persuaded to prohibit this type of adventure. In fact, although solo sailing and such feats don’t make a lot of sense to me, there is no doubt in my mind that, in fact, more of our young people need to encouraged to take adventure as their own. Even from childhood, training in navigation, first aid, and other adventure skill can begin. Some organisations such as Scouts do some of this, but it is so missing from the ordinary life now that the movement of children and youth in the wild environment needs to be considered from a governance, rather than just a family, policy.

If Abby Sunderland is never found, let us all praise her as we praise the loss of life of any adventurer, pioneer, soldier. For Abby Sunderland, like Jessica Watson, are the face of the peaceful generation. The peaceful generation is not a generation of people who sit around smoking dope. The peaceful generation are people who fully realise their own nobility, courage and intelligence, to solve difficult problems. Many youth are in great need of exploration of the environment. It is not the only way to realise character development, but I suspect it is vital for more than 50% of the population. And some youth will die because the environment can be unforgiving, even for the most prepared. But let us not deplore their valour. And even as we learn from the endeavour and its dangers, let’s not cocoon the next generation behind technology so that every adventure is without the risk, without the need to exert the human mind and body against the chaos. Let us permit danger, permit injury, permit death. Let us cease war and aggression against each other, but let us not fail to raise generations who are brighter and braver.

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