Days come and go, babies are born, they start and eventually stop playing around with their mothers’ breasts – they develop into responsible youth who later grow old and ultimately die! They said before you and I were born that time and age wait for no man, but I should rather add that neither does death. Our today is born of yesterday and either builds or demolishes the future. Young girls become women and possibly produce other young beings, boys grow into men and either grow into human beings or animals. In short, as we grow through the process of socialization, we adopt both good and bad, desirable or profane, and we become whatever we choose to be;- Silly, wise, bright, composed, stubborn, crazy, religious, philanthropic, mean, mature, premature, immature and any other form of human or “animalistic” characteristic we so wish to bare! Oh yes we do, and as it occurs, we become chauvinistic grouches and sentimental feminists. But sometimes we also become really nice, accommodating and tolerant. We eat, yawn, sleep and move about. We are human beings and we share all these characteristics. But then we have human beings and we do have youth! This interesting group, burning with adrenaline, full of potentials and best suited to take the lead. This entity of humanity that can be very useful but can also turn out to be a fatal mistake on the face of the earth. This is where I belong and today, I shall describe us, not in very bad terms and not in good either but with a complete sense of truth and sincerity.
Hesiod (700BC), the father of Greek didactic poetry, a man with whom I agree and equally disagree on several issues, once stated and I quote in part; “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.”
Old Hesiod! So we young people are only treacherous, incorrigible and whimsically flippant? We cannot be trusted and are annoyingly boisterous! Really?
Young people- My peers, Hesiod was very wrong, yes, but he was also right on point! Let us agree on this; we are the “future of tomorrow”. The current adults will not be here forever, and will eventually exit the world stage. Most of us will also die along with them, but certainly, we, I mean some of us, will stay around and transform into real adults (by which I mean, as old as my or your grandma or grandpa). Should that be the case and I suspect it is, then we have no other option but to shape the present in such a way that it will make the future safe, dependable and self-sustainable. Precisely, we must be responsible, not for crimes or unwanted pregnancies, dreaded murders or obscene mannerisms but in what we think, say and do. We can be better than mere creations, aren’t we trainable? Can’t we deliver on our obligations? My friends, we can take over the world and transmogrify it with our youthful warmth into a model earthly heaven. This should begin now, but if we have already begun then we we should unite and double our individual efforts for a better today and an excellent tomorrow.
In the holy Scriptures, it is written; “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
And then there is the time for now, a time to learn from the past mistakes and move forward on the right path of progress and wisdom. Maybe or maybe not, we shall decide, it begins with us changing ourselves, eradicating our own prejudices and learning to respect diversity. It is only until then, that I shall stop the rage I feel whenever I see a young innocent Muslim radicalized and turned into a heartless suicide bomber, or a Christian youth turned into a contract hater by the politicians of the day against adherents of other religions.
When we finally agree to unification of purpose in the clarion call for peace and tranquility, let me know so that I can resist the temptation of inflicting pain on my fellow youths because unlike me, they worship the God I supposedly know in a different style, let me also know so that I may stop my judgmental attitude and begin to gauge others not according to the scope of their study or the amount of melanin on their skins or the depth of their pockets, but by the richness of their character and the strength of their dreams. I’m imperfect, neither are you; we are just ordinary people- all of us. But the beauty of hope is than we are always accorded the chance to step into the new level of ‘extra’ ordinary people. We can change the world through our small acts- It begins with ourselves all the way to our nations to the global stage.
And you know, I’m serious! This thing is possible. But not until we change our ways. The same great Greek poet also said, “Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning”- Who among us is ready to wait?
Poor us! We want riches with an illicit immediacy! We are impatient with the ‘crimes’ of poverty and want, we insist we must drive and even fly like yesterday! Accordingly, if fair means cannot deliver on this promise, foul means are always fashionable!
So we kill without mercy and mourn without guilt, we steal in our dreams and awake to rob. We have become weapons for hire in all murderous schemes. We lie with impunity, we tell truth selectively, we are confused and rebellious. The few of us who are good and principled are traitors! They must be shot on the heads! That is us people! That is us one-on-one without the makeups of pretense and sideshows ! And with a blatant abandon of apology we still scream that we are the “leaders of today”. Which today? We say we are tired of tribal governments but only because they don’t let our own people to ‘eat’, we mobilize to revolt against our ineffective governments but only so that we can have the power to do the “swallowing”!
What a joke! Be serious people. If we want to see a change in our societies, if we want to achieve a meaningful social change and protect our nations and communities from the manipulative hands of only-God-knows what, we must be ready to tell ourselves the truth.
Again It is never an individual effort. We must unite. You see that disabled youth in your neighbourhood? That school drop out? That frustrated and unemployed youth? That Drug addict? That insecure young girl devoid of any grain of self-worth? That fellow educated but disillusioned youth? That well unappreciated young Professional? Each of them has a story to tell, they all have dreams, they all have potentials and they are the missing links without which the fabric of our envisioned “better future” shall never hold. Do you get it? We must hold together, and work as a team complementing one another’s efforts.
If we unite and learn to forget our differences no matter how grave, if we combine our efforts without giving much thought at who takes the final credit, if we can love without ceasing, if we can learn to with diligence, sail onward regardless of the size of storms, then it shall undeniably remain valid, that we are the makers and pillars of both today and tomorrow! If we fail to achieve this, doom will be our legacy.
Let us reflect on what Swami Vivekananda said; “Stand up, be strong, take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders and know that you are the creator of your own destiny”. When we learn to take responsibility as our mandatory obligation, then our unity of purpose and shared vision, shall take us to great heights. Again remember that it’s not only about our age but its relevance to the course of human dignity and advancement. We must talk to the world through actions not empty rhetoric and make the world know that youth are not synonymous with rebellion and laziness. We are also cooperative and innovative. Its true we like any other humans, possess a propensity for evil, but our capacities to do good are even much greater. You must be tired reading- How about resting my case?
I leave you with the words of Robert Kennedy; “This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”