Youth is the time of one’s life between the age of reason and adulthood.
This precious stage of existence is mostly defined by physical appearance, freshness, vigour, spirit and energy. The precise definition of a specific age range varies since the youthful state of life is able to defy chronology depending on opportunities at hand.
Youth is an experience that is able to shape one’s levels of maturity depending on traditions and cultural perspectives at hand. What is however generally agreed upon is that youth is generally the age of dependency. Even when one appears big and strong; this individual still relies on his/her family or community for intellectual, emotional and economic support.
It is estimated that today youth who are aged 15 to 24 years constitute 18% of the world’s population. In numbers, this is just over one billion. These are the people who constitute the most important cluster of our society because they represent the forthcoming generation of intellectuals, professionals, innovators, breadwinners, parents and leaders. It is therefore incumbent upon adults to prioritize the needs of the young people so that they are well prepared to take up the responsibilities as time unfolds. Generally, youth that cluster of people thirsty for an answer for that reason they need mentors and models to imitate, and not orators who simply please them. The youth of today are consistently challenged by:
The erosion of personal identity and national pride
A keen look at the youth today will reveal that most of them have lost the sense of personal identity and national pride. Many young people from around the world barely know who they are. A good number them don’t even remember the words to their national anthem or even a simple citation of ‘the Lord’s prayer’. Society has made young people develop a strong sense of individualism and materialism which has ended up eroding their sense of personal pride and nationhood. The young person’s attitude has, therefore, become about ‘what’s in it for me’ as opposed to ‘what’s in it for us’. The problem with such a mentality is that most youth will not be interested in working towards solving community problems that don’t directly affect them, therefore, making it much more challenging to address national issues.
Lack of family warmth and minimal parental guidance
Most young people, though silent, lack the warmth of the family and parental guidance mainly because of activism that is grabbing humanity by the neck thus contributing to a superficial family. It is said that charity begins at home. This is especially true because the family is the most basic unit of society. Today, however, because the family is overwhelmed by unnecessary demands; parenting has subscribed those known as absentee parents, single and neglectful parents. Some parents have abandoned their responsibility of raising their children with the right values which have resulted in a youth population that is not guided with the right value system. This has in turn exposed young people to higher risks of dropping out of school, risky sexual behaviours, drugs, alcohol and substance abuse among many other risks. Most youths don’t know any more what age group they belong too since they look adults with infant actions.
Induction into adulthood without tools for success
The youth are introduced to adulthood without tools for the required engagement. The failure by parents in fulfilling their responsibilities has resulted in children filling the void on their own. As a result, young people have been obliged to assume responsibility through the method of try and error which could be minimized or avoided altogether.
What is consoling thought is that the youth of today are quick learners and smart listeners? The problem is us adults who are slow to teach them. In our struggle to continue making this world a better place for all, let those who are capable do what takes to support the youth as they match on the path of success. The youth of today are looking for solutions; not a series of unending challenges. We need to learn from St. James who advises that: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” James 1:5. This teaching remains sound till today most especially when it comes to facing and solving generational challenges.
Ray of hope
What is consoling is that no generation of youth in human history has been denied a prize for its success. The truth, however, remains that; no generation has been so flattered or exploited like the present one. There seem to be greater physical comforts, many years of schooling, the marvels of modern health care, overseas travel and a lot of merry-making; yet all this spells doom if challenges are left unattended. It is thus advisable that youth are assisted to understand that life needs solutions instead of questions.
Prophet Jeremiah assures the youth that “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11-14.
Fr. Paulino Mondo