There is no doubt that today presents the most challenging moment to be a youth in the centuries of the world. There is also no doubt that we have been the least responsible for the hardships of our times. Yet we bear the greatest price. This is not just my opinion. Global leaders and change makers who are themselves older share in this thought. In one of my writings I recalled how Sir Bob Gedolf at the one young world summit apologised profusely to the younger generation and described his generation as having ‘’failed more disgracefully than any other’’. In that same piece I recalled the words of our very own Diplomat and Elder Kofi Annan which I paraphrased above and have the privilege to quote here again, "The grievances of young people are understandable. They have been the least responsible for the economic downturn, yet have paid the heaviest price in terms of lost jobs and dashed prospects".
Personally, I made inferences of how today’s youth have to stretch and strive for the very things that were at the ‘finger tips’ of today’s older generation when they were young. I stressed how the younger generation has to worry about things the older generation used not to worry about when they were young. I mentioned how we now have to travel miles to access fundamental human necessities such as jobs, opportunities, prospects, quality education, and functional amenities and utilities including parks. This is because they are either far away or are no more in place.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki, then 12years old, in a speech before the UN Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil in 1992 described how she is ‘’afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone’’. How she is ‘afraid to breathe the air because she doesn’t know what chemicals are in it’. She also described how she used to go ‘fishing in Vancouver with her dad until just a few years ago they found the fish full of cancers’. ‘With stories of how animals and plants are going extinct every day -- vanishing forever’. She went on to share how she has ‘dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now wonder if they will even exist for her children to see. She summed her rhetoric’s up with another when she asked delegates if they worried about these little things when they were her age?’ And I guess they all answered no.
Elder, Global Thought Leader and Icon Kofi Annan, in a speech on global perspectives on young leadership highlighted some key challenges of today’s world saying, ‘’We now live in a world where we are almost instantly affected by what is said and done across the other side of our planet; a world where diseases like swine flu can be carried across oceans, let alone national borders, in a matter of hours; a world where a sub-prime crisis in the US can lead to the worst global recession in decades; a world where failed states in the heart of Asia and Africa can come back to haunt us as safe havens for terrorists; a world where changing climatic patterns affect everyone, regardless of where they live, or what they do. We are confronted by global food shortages, the prevalence of poverty and violence and, of course, the gravest economic crisis for over 60 years. We also have to struggle with environmental degradation and climate change which threaten to worsen today’s crises of extreme poverty, famine, conflict, disease, and natural disasters’’.
Given the chance I could go on and on to present why there has never been a generation as confronted and challenged as today’s youth. I could also present why it would have been convenient and understanding for such generation to have failed, to the extent of blaming the older generation for such failures in a manner so justifiable.
However, interesting, this same world today, amidst its deep rooted storms has presented one of the finest times to be young if there has ever been amidst growing advancement in Information Communication Technology.
History has it that it is our time that the world became more global and that global citizenship became more relevant. There is no doubt that we are the best educated and informed of all generations. To quote Kofi Annan, ‘’Increased educational attainment, advances in technology and the spread of information have made this generation the best educated, most connected and most informed in history’’. Indeed we are the most innovative, actionable, creative, and above all savvy.
It is in our time that here in Ghana proceedings of a highly ‘sensitive’ court case was made more accessible than never. Again history will forever have it that is during our time that Ghana voted biometrically. These are all opportunities of our time and are for our edification, growth, advancement and attainment. Many have justified these availabilities and many more will. These have also favored the youth than any other generation and have exposed their skills, creativity and passion in finding solution to the world’s problems through innovation.
‘’From creating start-ups to igniting revolutions, young people have been toppling the old structures and processes that govern our world’’ says Kofi Annan. Bill gate invented Microsoft for our times. Mark Zuckerberg brought us Facebook. Today we use ‘Smartphone’s, tablets, iPads and iPods’. We now use Android phones. There are innovative apps which the older generation don’t even understand and cannot use. Talk of ‘BBM and the WhatsApp’. I know our likes invented them. What more do we need? Why must we fail? And if we do what will count to justify us? If your guess should be as right as mine, then it’s absolutely nothing.
To borrow the words of role model and tower, Mr. Kofi Annan, ‘’If we let the UN Human Rights Council fail, which will surely happen if democratic states weaken their commitment and engagement with it, we leave the field free to tyrants to call the shots. That would be a betrayal of those who are, or might one day be, the target of oppression and violence’’.
Our challenges as young people should in no way weaken our commitment to progress in life. It should in no way prevent us from engaging the realms of success. Else we will leave the world to those who have no need for it. Rather it should challenge as to confront it realities.
Quoting Alan Cohen, ‘‘there are two kinds of people in the world: those who make excuses and those who get results. An excuse person will find any excuse for why a job was not done, and a results person will find any reason why it can be done. Be a creator, not a reactor."
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