REFLECTION: Youth and social change PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 November 2011 13:58

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

O, youth! The dawning of the future, the shaper of tomorrow! If the child is the father of the man, then youth must be that crucial stage in-between that would determine whether the child is going to be a good father or a bad father of the man. Youth is the junction where one takes a life-defining choice. It is that transitory part of life that is still seeking stability and maturity.

That’s reason enough to put utmost attention and care on them. All sectors—Church, schools, civil society, government, media, etc.—ought to have a permanent concern for their well-being not only in the physical sense, but more so in the spiritual and moral sense.

By sheer number alone, barring the so-called demographic winter some countries are now suffering, the youth make for a tremendous force in the Church and in the world. They simply need to be well formed so that they too, can help in shaping the kind of world and future they want and ought to live, the world God wants for us.

They have to be gradually drawn to assume increasing responsibilities, instead of leaving them to fall into self-absorption and isolationism that are always a danger.

That’s because in spite of the new technologies that in theory should promote sociability, with the wrong attitudes and habits, the youth can instead harden in their egotism, vanity and individualism. Instead of getting more deeply in touch with reality, they can get lost in a world of virtuality, creating a bubble for themselves.

Toward this end, the youth need to be given clear doctrine and criteria, based on our natural law and our Christian faith, so that their innate dynamism would be well-guided and oriented.

With these, they can avoid the pitfalls of exaggerated idealism and activism, to mention a few of the anomalies that usually threaten them. Some other menaces can be extreme, radical independence on the one hand, and the tendency to fall into a herd mentality, on the other, which show a certain degree of instability in their condition.

Times are now complicated and confusing. The youth today are exposed to more things, both good and bad, constructive and destructive, than their counterpart of yesterday. They can flip quickly from local issues to the global ones, thanks to our new technologies. They now have in their hands powerful tools and instruments that can be used either for good or for evil.

Besides, the world environment has changed tremendously in so short a time. Materialism and commercialism are far fiercer in the present than in the past. And we are actually wallowing in a cesspool of secularism and relativism, made worse by the fact that these anomalies can now be better disguised and rationalized.

More than just being given doctrine and criteria, the youth must make these doctrine and criteria their own, to the point that these become their convictions, enabling them to think, judge, speak and act properly, and later to love and enter into a life of commitment. They have to go beyond the stage of theories, clichés and slogans.

This is the ideal situation. We need youth who are active agents of change for the better in society. But how can this happen?

I imagine that first of all, we have to take care of each one of them. Before they are treated as a group, a class or sector, they have to be considered individually and personally. Each one has to be known as he really is—his character and temperament, his strengths and weaknesses, his likes and dislikes, his dreams and fears, etc.

It’s important that each of them is able to share his thoughts and desires with someone he can trust completely. What is important is that each one feels loved and cared for so he too can learn to love and care for the others.

The earlier one realizes deeply that life is relational that involves not only physical and material things, but also and especially spiritual and moral things, the better for him and for everyone else.

Everyone has to learn how to love properly, based on the love of God and not just any form of human attraction. This is more properly known as communion. This realization will serve as the seed for the youth to become active agents in social change.

Social action should always be a function of charity, truth and justice, and should foster communion. While it involves issues, it should not just stop there, but rather proceed to build up communion.