A World Astir|Jan 27, 2004 4:48 AM| by:

Where is the Youth?

Where is the youth?

May be there isn’t one. As the world becomes increasingly complex, it has become difficult to take things lightly.  As our elders expect nothing but the best from us, it has become difficult to achieve our goals. And as society keeps questioning the morality of our generation, it has become difficult to be the youth.

For lack of knowing the exact definition myself, I attempted to find the meaning of “youth” in my Oxford pocket dictionary. “The condition or quality of being young” and “the time of life between childhood and maturity” is what I found. This “time of life between childhood and maturity” has become so miniscule that it may not be outrageous to say it does not exist at all. From the moment we reach physical maturity, we are expected to be mature in all aspects. And this is where the difference lies.

There are many factors that the youth today has to deal with which half a century ago didn’t exist at all. STDs, school shootings, child labor, forced prostitution – a problem is faced in every corner of the world. It is for this reason that the older generation will simply not understand. And it is this lack of understanding that leads to the shortage of guidance the youth so desperately needs from its elders.

Today, at an alarmingly young age, girls begin to worry about their hair, their make-up, boyfriends, and how to maintain a skinny figure. A generation ago, at the same age, my mother used to run freely in her neighborhood, playing games with her friends, engrossed in a childhood untainted by maturity. She did not constantly have to look over her shoulder for potential rapists. It sounds drastic, but in today’s world, society has reached such a low point that girls, sometimes even before they reach maturity, are constantly living in fear because of the harm they are so easily susceptible to.

We are expected to be the intellectual, the curious, and the always inspiring motivated youth. We are expected to have a response for all the things that happen in today’s world. Technology, political affairs, social problems, environmental protection; we are supposed to care and do something about it. The future is ours and we are the next future.

But what people fail to see is what so clearly lies before their eyes. We are moving towards a future which has become difficult to admire. How do we express a voice about the future when what is happening at present so profoundly silences us?

Priests are tried for molesting little boys. Abandoned baby girls in China are found packed in suitcases. A person waking up in the morning and going to work, in a fraction of a second becomes the man in the picture on the front page of the New York Times who is falling out of a 110-storey skyscraper. In the year 2000, 1.8 million of the world’s children were newly orphaned by AIDS, about five thousand children orphaned each day. This is our world. We are supposed to accept it. But we can’t.

Where is the youth?

If it does exist, it is hiding. It is not the same youth as before. It is afraid. It is disappointed. It is vulnerable. And it is hurt.

It’s morality is questioned. But it cannot deal with the morality of the world.

It’s complacency is attacked. But it is numbed by the hatred in the world.

I am part of this youth. I am also afraid, disappointed, vulnerable, and hurt. I want to make my world a dream and not a nightmare. But I am afraid to do so. Because there’s a chance I won’t be able to.

The youth is not disinterested in its future. It is trying to figure out how to deal with it. How to do the best when more than the best is expected of it. How to do the right thing when everything it does is labelled wrong. What the youth needs is help. And if it fails to get it, it will cease to exist.

Uttama Patel

(Uttama Patel is a young student of 18 years studying Journalism in USA.)

  • http://Website Prasad

    I observe that the author (Uttama Patel/Where is the Youth/January issue)
    has expressed her concern over topics like STD, AIDS etc. Let us begin by
    analyzing the reason for this situation: all these diseases crop up because
    mankind has began to yield more to lower forces than ever before. I am
    of the view the rise of these diseases are challenges posted by mother
    nature to give a chance for man to overcome his lower forces. It’s the way
    “mother nature” rings her bell to wake us up to the situation. A medicine or
    a vaccine for HIV or STD is not going to solve the problem. In fact mother
    nature may come up with deadlier diseases if an attempt is made to just
    cure the disease without raising our consciousness.

    This situation is of course a cause of worry but it is certainly not the end
    of the road for humanity. For example man first made stone weapons and
    other tools of destruction before learning to carve a beautiful statue or build
    the “Taj Mahal”. The same happened when mankind learnt to release the
    energy in the nucleus of an atom -- man first developed the atomic bomb
    before building a nuclear power plant. So only when man raises his
    consciousness all these problems can be tackled effectively and unfortunately
    mankind has been making the same kind of mistake of first misusing a tool
    and then learning to use it purposefully.

    So the present situation may look gloomy but the truth is that we are at the
    dawn of a day where the sun never sets (in fact the sun never sets for the earth)
    and where there is going to be rapid progress, not just in the material world but
    also on all fronts of human progress.