It’s not easy to be young today

Let’s Honestly Face It!

It has become quite fashionable these days to pour contempt on young people and levy damning verbal attacks on them.

We all too often hear such remarks as: “They’ve never had it so good and yet… and yet…”

Is it easy to be young today? Not so sure!

50 years ago life was more difficult but simpler. Today we have running water, electricity, transport facilities, welfare benefits, telephone, better homes, etc., but life has become complex and hectic. Things are changing so fast that adaptation has become a very difficult task and educational, social and cultural institutions are ill equipped to train, guide and help our youths.

The world has known a knowledge explosion. In the late 50s and early 60s adolescents were told that the universe was made up of one galaxy, the Milky Way. Now they know that the universe is made up of billions of galaxies and our Milky Way is perhaps a dwarf compared to other galaxies. The computer and the Internet have placed at our fingertips thousands of volumes of encyclopaedic information. For the first time in our history humans have such a wide assortment of entertainment outlets that the management of time has become an arduous task. The choice of a career was not a hard task for possibilities were very limited. Today possibilities are so vast that young people very often are caught in a huge web of alluring dead-ends and often fail to find a course compatible with their aspirations and talents.

Half a century ago youths thought that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” Now they sing a different song. The sexual revolution has generated a new culture much harder to manage.

After the horrors of WW2, there was a general feeling that the post-war world would in comparison be ‘nice’. Suddenly in the early 70s a major preoccupation started to haunt the minds of thinking people. Is our planet a safe place to be in? Now with global warming and climate change we know that we must be prepared for tough times. Moreover the dominant war mongering, trigger-happy Yankee imperialist power is arrogantly attacking and invading sovereign nations. With such a backdrop is it strange that our youths have developed a mindset based on immediate gratification and the enjoyment of present delights? The future seems bleak.

Economic leaders have become gamesters not to say gangsters; most political leaders have turned neoliberals, disciples of market-fundamentalism in return for generous baksheesh from those wielding economic power; religious leaders are more concerned with eye-catching and mind-boggling rituals; those who should be led have become leaders.

In the late 50s and early 60s most adolescents grew in a home where generally the father was the provider and the mother was the homemaker. With the general emancipation of women both partners now work outside the home and consequently family life has changed.

All these drastic changes mean that young people have to cope with an exciting but difficult reality. Does all this mean that we have to revert to the old dispensation? Certainly not! There has been a constant move from less freedom to more freedom. We have moved to a higher form of living which demands new attitudes, lifestyle and mindset. This is where we have not been very successful as parents, teachers and spiritual leaders. We should not blame the youths for our own failings.


* Published in print edition on 15 March 2014

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