If there is a prominent preoccupation in the minds of the elders, it should be about the youth of today. Situation and Needs Study of youth in India conducted by: International Institute for Population Sciences and Population Council says, “Youth, the population aged 15—24, constitute some 222 million and represent 20 percent of the Indian population. This cohort is healthier, more urbanized and better educated than earlier generations; at the same time, they face significant risks. We keep asking a nagging question: In our times we were so responsible. What do the present day youth do about their responsibility towards society, family and themselves? Some of us even expect the youngsters, beyond proportions, to come to the fore and take active leadership.
That is about the responsibility of the elders of the society.
Often we, elders, forget that we also have some responsibilities towards the youth particularly in developing them into future leaders.
We are in an era of computers and electronics, dictating the course of development of the mankind, with newer theories of prospects and prosperity. Yet, the issues of the youth seems to remain the same. They seem to revolve around the issues of schooling and education, enterprise and employment, friendship and sex, marriage and childbearing, voting experience and politics, community violence and society’s tolerance.
We want the youth to fit into the above issues well. But, whose needs are they anyway? We seem to expect the youth to fit in to what we have designed for them and for the future. As a result, the youth are trying to please the elders by fitting in the form that the elders sculpt for the sprouting youth with so much potential.
“In youth we learn; in age we understand.” Says Marie Ebner von Eschenbach. The bridge of youth from puberty to adulthood is over the steep valley of experiences, challenges and sometimes failures. If the youth only knew, then age only could make the impossible, possible; but, age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth. Age forgets that its past was the youth and the story of evolution repeats again with age holding the pen to write the story of the youth.
“In case you are worried about what’s going to become of the younger generation, it’s going to grow and start worrying about the younger generation,” says Roger Allen. It is up to us to break this vicious cycle of unhealthy interdependence. Let us remember that higher the goal of the youth, the wider the responsibility. Let us never arrest the initiatives of the youth to fly into wider horizon to narrow confines of our petty selfishness and smaller dreams to make them fit as normal youth to do the ordinary all the time.
Youth is a period of missed opportunities, forgotten dreams and failed challenges, but youth is the trustee of prosperity. Youth is the best time to be rich, and the best time to be poor. Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt. This can be the key to help us mould the youth of today towards greater responsibilities and leadership for the future.
As Aristotle says, “Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.” Thus the foundation of every state is the true education of its youth and not the mere instructions imparted to him by the elders as it is a passover period towards adulthood. So, we need to agree with philosopher Alfred North Whitehead when he says, “The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.”
Every youth owes it to himself/herself and to the world to make the most possible out of the stuff that is in him. Thus, experiences, even tragedies can build up a man from a youth. At the same time, we need to realize that youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind. You are as old as your doubt, your fear, your despair. The way to keep young is to keep your faith young. Let us keep our self-confidence young. Keep our hope young for the sake of the youth and to keep our dreams alive.