Let’s Help Our Youth Evolve

Saturdays With Shivani

In a recent conversation with one of my cousins, the talk veered towards children and she mentioned how this generation wants to work for the pleasure of it and not just for money. While I concurred with her statement, I also noted that it’s an evolutionary process.

If I speak from my own experience, my grandparents started their life from scratch after partition uprooted them. For them survival took precedence over everything else. No job was too small or demeaning so long as it helped pay the bills. As they rebuilt their lives, they realised the importance of education especially for girls.

While very few women in my grandparents’ generation were well educated but they ensured that the next generation was better equipped. With education on their side, my parents’ generation landed up with better paying jobs and the respect that came with it. They probably did not have the luxury to do the jobs they liked so they just liked what they did and for them this was a step-up.

When they had us, they tried to push the envelope slightly further just like their parents had done for them and that is how we reached where we are today. Our generation through our experiences has certain ideas about handling the fear of failure, taking bigger leaps and following one’s passions. Our beliefs are now reflecting in our children’s opinions and decisions.

I am fully aware that I am making broad generalisations here and pardon me for that. The bottom line is that ideally every generation is expected to be more evolved and have a broader sense of perspective than the previous one. That is how a society progresses.

While it gladdens my heart when my daughter reminds me that ‘everything is not about money, Mumma’ or when I see my nieces and nephews pursuing their passions, there is a section of youth that worries me. Every time I see youngsters hatemongering in the name of religion I am scared. When they uphold misogyny as a tool to stifle a community’s voice, my head hangs in shame.

I have learnt to ignore the uncles and aunties on WhatsApp who keep pushing nonsense forwards in the name of culture and religion. However, when young people get entangled in this web, I feel, as adults, we have failed them. Our job was to make them ‘citizens of the world’ and here they are marking territories and othering minorities. Tolerance was supposed to be a virtue but they misconstrue it as weakness.

The generational evolution that was expected to happen is not just being halted, its racing downhill as we speak. You may feel I am overreacting but devolution is a thing (google if you don’t believe me). The seeds of hatred have started to sprout and if we don’t do something to stop that, the poison will seep into the water table ruining the entire ecosystem.

By narrowing their vision, we are ruining their chances to stand in the world that awaits them. Before they lose themselves in the darkness, we have inadvertently led them to, let’s go back to doing what we were supposed to do- to teach them to dream bigger, take leaps of faith, widen their horizons and spread their wings. We owe it to them, to ourselves and to our previous generations.

Dr. Shivani Salil