Forever And Ever The Youth - Eastern Mirror
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Forever and Ever the Youth

By EMN Updated: Apr 27, 2022 10:40 pm

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1Timothy 4:12).

The world observed International Youth Day recently. Indeed, everyday is a day to commemorate the birth, death or some anniversary or the other of practically every culture, religion and nation in the world thus filling up all the days of the year. That is fine and encouraging. A Russian proverb says, “Every day is a messenger of God.”

The day of commemoration comes and goes but its essence and value should be enhanced continuously. Grand gestures on significant occasions mark the passage of time. But little gestures that sweeten the moment stop time, allowing us to pause to express or receive love and encouragement. In that spirit herewith is the focus on youth which is the period of life coming between childhood and maturity, the early stage of growth or existence.

The Transition

Youth means not only young age. It means the green years, the tender years, the bloom yet innocent years of one’s life. Youth is a term that embraces us from the cradle to childhood, the teens, adolescence and young manhood/womanhood and sometimes to young old manhood/womanhood. Middle age is the time of life between youth and old age; now usually applied to the years from a 40 to 60. Yet if we get to be quite old, we become youthful again.

By the time youngsters are in college they more or less have an idea or decided which profession to pursue and their eventual outcome would depend on their zeal and enthusiasm. In the process, a number fall by the wayside, or simply give up while others plod on till they achieve a measure of success while not a few do achieve victorious goals to the Ph.D levels and beyond. It all depends on their teachers in the primary to higher secondary levels and then the lecturers (better defined now as assistant professors).

Parents play a crucial role in upbringing of the children. Values like obedience, honesty, courtesy and willingness to participate in making an amiable family atmosphere are inculcated first in the home. A role model to emulate is also important and so we need many more in our society. It is then the majority of our youth will be able to contribute whatever they are capable of for peace, development and prosperity. There are many avenues of earning a livelihood without necessarily aiming for a post in Govt. of Nagaland service which in any case is over-saturated.

Our Naga society in general has great traditional and cultural heritage making for a proud historical saga. Presently, there are, of course, certain hindrances/obstacles facing a majority of our youth. These include financial constraints, poor rural connectivity, various isms and a certain lack of civic sense. Nevertheless, these can be overcome if our youth are determined to succeed. The key is to persevere by holding on to enthusiasm and never to be discouraged after any failure for one can try again and again and again until the goal is scored.

Even then, in spite of much experience, ultimate knowledge of anything is infinite for there seems no end to it. So the youth must keep in mind what English poet (1731–1800) wrote: “Knowledge is proud it has learnt so much; Wisdom is humble it knows no more.”

Also, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s presidential inaugural speech on January 20, 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Call to the World’s Youth

Half a century ago, what UK’s then Cabinet Minister in charge of Environment, 40-year old Rt. Hon. Peter Walker, MBE, said in a speech to the World Assembly of Youth in August, 1972 holds relevance even today. Herewith is an excerpt: “The challenges before you, the new generation, are clear. No matter what your political affiliations, no matter from which nations of the world you come, there must be three objectives which dominate your minds.

“The first, to free the world from poverty and squalor. The second, to provide mankind with a quality of environment both at home and at work that makes living a full and rich experience for each individual. The third, to free the world from racial discriminations and prejudice.

“Attainment of these objectives will be difficult. The gap between rich and poor nations is widening, not closing. The spirit of nationalism is adding to racial prejudice, not diminishing it. And there are those of the younger generation in politics who consider that the search for self-fulfilment means the freedom to do your own thing and to hell with anyone else.

“The role of the young traditionally, has been to stand on the touchlines, criticising the older generation who are playing the game and making all the decisions. Today, for the first time in history, the twenties to thirties are better educated than the fifties to sixties.

“From now on, the new and educated young must be on the field of play, participate in the decision-taking and facing challenges that can only be met by a generation freed from past dogmas……We are entering a period when the clash of ideologies should be replaced by unity in wishing to attain the same objectives; when the true reformer is the man of action.

“Thus my plea to you is a plea for practical wisdom. You have the advantages of the means of communication, both verbal and physical, never previously available. You have the skill at science and technology that can change bad conditions into good with a speed never previously considered. Also, you are able, like older generations, to learn from the mistakes of the past and inherit the good that has been created.

“The world’s judgement upon your success or failure will be made at the end of the century. You have 30 years in which you will either fail to the permanent detriment of humanity or succeed to an extent greater than any previous generation.”

Yours truly is of the generation to which the speech was addressed. Since then, many things have happened on practically all fronts the world over, the latest being over two years of Covid 19 and its mutations pandemic and the ever growing voice for addressing climate change and biodiversity loss (the Russia-Ukraine conflict notwithstanding). On her two-day visit to India from Sunday April 24 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said youngsters are the advocates to fight climate change, save the planet and develop solutions by raising their voice for climate change by advocating greener policies. So forth and so on. 

Be that as it may, on a youthful note, reproduced here are an American’s thoughts on youth which have inspired some of the world’s most successful businessmen. Newspaper columnist Margaret Mason reprinted a short essay on youth by Samuel Ullman started a chain of delightful events. She got a call from Ullman’s great-grandson, Richard Ullman Rosenfield, a psychologist. He told her that he had been intrigued with the “spiritual journey” of the essay especially in Japan.

In an article titled “Words That Won Japan” in Readers Digest condensed from the “Washington Post” of Sept. 17, 1990, she wrote that this essay written sometime about 1910s had much to do with Japanese productivity and the basis of many businessmen’s life philosophy. “Many carried tattered copies in their wallets.” Among many positive comments on this essay, a lasting one is by Kokichi Hagiwara, former Japanese chairman of National Steel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: “It touches me at the core of my heart. This kind of enthusiasm is indispensible. We must have the spirit of youth to make change.”

General Douglas MacArthur, who led U.S. forces in the Second World War, kept a framed copy over his desk often quoted from it throughout the Pacific campaign. Apparently the Japanese picked up the work from his Tokyo headquarters. Some Japanese leaders have considered this essay as a bridge between two cultures. If Westerners can understand Japanese reverence for it’ maybe they can better understand the Japanese quest for spiritual sustenance in the midst of material abundance.

Japanese royalties on a book of Samuel Ullman and cassette reading of his work has gone to a University of Alabama scholarship fund. Ullman wrote his essay when he had crossed 70 years old!

Essay on Youth

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of the mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. 

“Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over the timidity of appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of 60 more than a boy of 20. Nobody grows old by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

“Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next and the joy of the game of living. In the centre of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station: so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

“When the snows are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old at 20, but so long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there is hope you may be young at 80.”

Jack T. Chakhesang

By EMN Updated: Apr 27, 2022 10:40:24 pm
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