Recently in my line of work, there has been a lot of talk about youth. During an interview with Dr Moeller (former ambassador to Denmark), he said that personally, he feels that his time was to make this period a better period than it was before previously. Coming from the cold war, he wtinessed the tides of change and felt somewhat bittersweet about this period, he wasn't too sure if he had made a positive difference, or have progressed very far from where he had come from.
This vested interest in youths, it would seem stems from the disappointment of one's time. Young people are often heralded as beacons of hope, an investment even, of a better future. The youths have their ideas of what they want to do, and learning from the past mistakes, they are seen to be innovative in their solutions.
Is that true? I am hesitant to call it conclusively so. While my business is one vested in youths, and true enough I do want to see that there is hope in the youths of the future. However, the concept of "youth" is very arbitrary, inconclusive and often just simply confusing.
What does it mean to be young and is this hope invested in youths something that is justified? Let me draw an example, the 'older' generation see young people potential that they themselves have achieved. The older generation have regrets, they have faced with disappointments. Indeed, how much of 'potential' they see in youths, one that is in actuality, cast upon them due to their own shortcomings? While they see unripe potential, I've come to see that youths are expected to act and to act in ways that are becoming of them - innovative but also docile, innocent but also mature. These are contradictory characteristics expected of youths - we cannot have both dichotomous natures embodied in one. Something seems to give here.
This is why I feel that youths today are not seen as the hope, but rather a form of redemption of the older generation. The youth of today are always in debt of the past generation. We are financially in debt due to our school fees/housing loans. We are constantly in emotional debt due to our lack of experience in life as we waddle through heartbreaks, betrayal and despair, we are also in familial debt, as we "return" what our parents have given us. There is much uncertainty with being young, and while one might argue that there are also plenty of choices, often I find that we take the choice that is a) imposed upon us by our elders, whether explicitly or implicitly or b) we take the path most well travelled.
As a result, we repeat the mistakes of those before us, and perpetuate this almost idealistic hope of redemption in the next generation, hoping that they don't follow our mistakes - and yet, still insisting that they do what is "right" (get a "right job", start a "right family", "settle down").
The youth doesn't bring hope for a better future, they simply serves as beacons of redemption from the previous generation. The previous generation see us as their second chances - to make the same choices, but to perform better instead of allowing us to make the choices for ourselves. We are not angels of hope, but puppets under the hands of those who are in a better financial position to manipulate.