By ROLI S
“ Youth offers the promise of happiness, but life offers the realities of grief,”a quote by Nicholas Sparks says it all. Young people, when they come in contact with the real, are bruised and wounded. It looks as if they were victims of a conspiracy; for the books they read, ideal by the necessity of selection, and the conversation of their elders, who look back upon the past through a biased haze of forgetfulness, prepare them for an unreal life. They must discover for themselves that all they have read and all they have been told are lies; and each discovery is another nail driven into the body on the cross of life. I understand that it is not easy being young. A happy youth is mostly an illusion because the young know that they are wretched as they are full of hypocritical and devious ideals which have been instilled in them. They live their life being told different stories in schools, in families; some true, some lies and still don’t know which is which. At birth, a person is very much like a new hard drive – no viruses, no bad information, and no crap that’s been downloaded into it yet. It’s what is fed into that hard drive, or “head drive”, that starts the corruption of the files and formation of ideas and ideologies. Manyyoung people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just skeptics and doubters. Because doubters just doubt and don’t learn anything, it is a self- imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because they are afraid it will hurt them or disappoint them. Doubters always say no whereas in reality saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things change and grow. Saying “yes” leads to learning and knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So, for as long as the youth have the strength to say anything, let them say “yes’.” India needs more youth that say “Yes” and are positive about the future and their country with its available experiences, resources, knowhow and talent pool. As India will celebrate Swami Vivekananda’s Birth Anniversary on 12 January and “National Youth Day”, it is indeed high time that we resolve to follow his ideals and take our youthful nation to greater heights as the leader of the world. This can be achieved by being less cynical and more positive. According to Vivekananda, “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?” In the last few days, we have witnessed many events in India where we have come face to face with aspirations, demands and inclinations of the youth of today. They need a “voice” and they want to be heard. This country is facing various challenges and I am certain the message of Swami Vivekananda has the power to wonderfully guide our youth into the future. The Swami said, “My Faith is in the Younger Generation, the Modern Generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problem, like Lions.” And he expressed this confidence 50 years before we even got our independence! And his words still ring true when we have entered a new decade, 2020. He believed in a life of purpose without which a human being is but a walking-talking corpse. Till the purpose is not recognised, life is absolutely useless. It is extremely important not to decide the purpose of life with the narrow objective to be something or the other. He demanded that youth think of doing not becoming and, in this process, youth will certainly become something. Once the purpose of life is clear, all actions of life become driven by that purpose. He told youth to be like the pearl oyster. There is a pretty Indian fable to the effect that if it rains when the star ‘Swati’ is in the ascendant, and a drop of rain falls into an oyster, that drop becomes a pearl. The oysters know this, so they come to the surface when that star shines and wait to catch the precious raindrop. When a drop falls into them, quickly the oysters close their shells and dive down to the bottom of the sea, there to patiently develop the drop into the pearl. We should be like that. Very often, it so happens that we take on a task with immense enthusiasm but, as time passes by, the same enthusiasm fizzles out. Pursuing a challenge with utmost dedication is indeed the road to success for our youth of today’s India. Vivekanand had also recognised the importance of teamwork and emphasised the fact that, be it any sector from science and technology to business, teamwork constitutes a major cornerstone to attaining the desired results. Our culture refers to the stage of youth as the Brahmacharya Ashram or Vidyarthi Jivan where education and educational institutes provide the preliminary preparations for right and successful living. Vivekananda said when young minds are attaining education it is like the laying of the foundation for an important building it wishes to construct. He urged the youth to be wise, correct and of such kind that would lead to true welfare, supreme good and lasting satisfaction and happiness in their personal and professional life. The youth of India today have great creative energy with the positive potential to take the country to spiritual heights. Demographically, today’s India is at its youngest best and has the power to meet any challenge with the collective consciousness and effort of all people, especially the young. “An empty stomach is no good for religion? We as a nation have lost our individuality and that is the cause of all mischief in India. We have to raise the masses,” the Swami said. While meditating on the “last bit of Indian rock” (later known as the Narendra Rock Memorial) at Kanyakumari, he infused in the youth the sense of service and self sacrifice towards Motherland India, when he said, “I am an Indian and every Indian is my brother.” “The ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the pariah Indian is my brother.” “The Indian is my brother, the Indian is my life, India’s gods and goddesses are my God, India’s society is the cradle of my infancy, the pleasure garden of my youth, the sacred heaven, the Varanasi of my old age.” “The soil of India is my highest heaven; the good of India is my good.” These gems but hold so much of relevance even today. This is the perfect time when youth of our country is alert and aware and provoked by the environment and lack of clarity. India is a nation facing incredible challenges at present and if the present youth walks on the blessed and honoured path of the Swami’s ideals and beliefs, it will merely be a matter of time before India adorns the mantle as the leader of the World. I believe that young people don’t always do what they’re told, but if they can pull it off and do something wonderful, many good things emerge out of that for a nation. So, if you ask me, “What should young people do with their lives today?” Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing that they can do is to create stable and kind communities in which the terrible disease of hatred and discrimination can be cured.
(Roli S is an Educator, Teacher Trainer, Author and School Reviewer based in Mumbai.)