The great Dutch Humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, gave mankind a basic truth that is often absent from our dealings with our youth.
A child is not a miniature adult. He says: young bodies are like tender plants, which grow and become hardened to whatever shape you’ve trained them. And the real corker: the main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.
The tendency to label the youth of our country as recalcitrant, confrontational, unproductive, destructive and directionless should perhaps be tempered by a look at this great thinker’s humanism.
Granted, the last 23 years of democracy has given us some serious headaches. For me, the worst one is the generation without proper education because of the struggle years (especially 1983 to 1993).
Then there is the directionless education system that strives to justify its own ineptitude by add-on adjustments that only muddy the waters even further.
And the questionable tendency of including Fallism as an essential element in the discourse for reparation under the guise of decolonisation.
Our youth holds up the world as evidence that we, the older generation, did not do enough to effect change. They tap into Erasmus’ notion that “he who allows oppression shares the crime”.
The accusation holds that the older ones are guilty of some collusion that made colonisation so damnably successful and ineradicable, thus allowing the scourge of Nationalist rule to last so long.
The accusation cuts across all races and convictions.
The youth need to enter into discourse without that prejudgement that fuels their anger and resentment.
The older ones were not passive adherents of oppression. They, too, were victims of mental, physical, spiritual, social and political abuse which makes each one of them a struggle hero.
This holds for the entire racial spectrum. The myth that only blacks suffered under the oppression, and that only blacks are struggle heroes, needs to be interrogated. It’s not about who suffered more, or how the perceived degree of suffering justifies the unfortunate reverse racism called entitlement.
We need to revisit the situation where children are allowed to act like adults. This translates into the assumption that mindless destruction is acceptable.
Education without paying fees is nonsense. The flawed dictum of liberation before education has been exploded.
Buying into the myth of instant gratification is destructive.
A few years of reality will leave the brash sadly disillusioned and disempowered. Parents should mentor the youth with firmness and love.
Hard work and glamour are mutually exclusive. The youth should be cautioned: if you do not get up early and work hard, they will say about you that you did not get up early and work hard.