Harnessing the fire of youth

Posted: August 25, 2012 in Uncategorized
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The flame of passion burns bright in every young person, whatever their colour, creed, faith or disability. When childhood segues to puberty, it is at the forefront of the many changes within the flourishing mind. From out of the shell of a happy child comes hurtling a raging adolescent, ready to take on the world.

The thing about this ‘fire of youth’ is that it is wild and unfocussed. The wielder has no concept of it, and acts mainly on instinct. Attempts may be made to satiate the burning with drugs, sex and violence. Others, under the influence of more punishing discipline or coercion, may be able to focus their flame on more constructive academic or physical pursuits.

Some parents are infuriated by this flame, seeking to control and manipulate it. Some even attempt to beat it out of their offspring. Others see it as a positive thing which will recede in time to something which will see the child reach their full potential, and even encourage and nurture it, despite the threat of being scorched in its trail.

We are living in troubling times, with the spectre of Neo-liberalism having destroyed the harvest; now making itself busy salting the earth. Children whose flame burned bright could normally expect their passion to drive them into a sector of their choosing, where they would work their way up and forge a career and family life for themselves. The lucky few perhaps, but their flames would mellow as they burned for the greater good.

Now we approach a future where even these driven children from backgrounds rife with opportunity may find their post-education flames stunted, as they contemplate a life working jobs they hate, if they can even derive long-term employment.

We are used to the results of troubled adolescents whose flames were denied access to opportunity. They generally become fires of destruction within their communities and beyond: directionless fire is a dangerous thing. If this dearth of chance is now spreading to the middle classes, then what kind of society are we building? What flames of discontent are we stoking?

Instead of shrinking from these flames, perhaps we need to guide them in wise directions. If young people’s personal ambitions cannot be met by the economic realities of the country they reside in, and emigrating is not an option, these fires of youth could be well used in other, more pertinent areas. Areas for the greater good.

Of course the dizzy, dreaming youth fantasises of either the world knowing their name, or of changing the world. What better way of changing the world than charity and political activism? We saw how the passion of the young fought against injustice with the student fees protests. What great changes could we see if it was not just the University students on the streets? If the protests transcended class barriers, and ceased being riots versus protests, but peaceful revolution? Where the flames grew so high and hot that the political elite melted in the heat, and the resultant metaphorical bonfire recalled the original anti-establishment rogue?

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