We are the here and now
On 16 June it is Youth Day, a day when we celebrate the spirit of our children. But we shouldn’t. We should mourn for them on account of us.
The most tragic thing in this world is a child with prejudice. It is a repelling thought: a child with prejudice. How unspeakably sad is that? Even more so when you think that for every child that harbours a bias towards another we are to blame. They did not choose to think that way. They were taught.
We are the here and now, we are the fault and we are the solution. For too long have we reminded our children to look back instead of urging them to look forward. For too long have we allowed ourselves to stand in the way of allowing this generation to be the one that we should have been. We do this through the examples we set for them to emulate. We squabble, we resist. We refuse, all of us, to look at the world through another’s eyes and this makes us blind to the potential the future might hold. We are the here and now, we are the fault and we are the solution.
Imagine, just for one second, imagine what we can achieve if we say: ‘Today I will set an example for our youngsters to follow.’ And imagine, just for a second, if you say that tomorrow as well. If we invest in our youth we will reap the rewards. And if we pollute them with our prejudices we will suffer the consequences.
We are abusing this generation. When we should be giving advice and support and guidance we are fixated on manipulating them to serve our own needs.
We are not allowing our children to be children, we are not allowing them to experience the world through untainted eyes, because we are adamant not to. We corrupt them, because we ourselves are corrupt. We mislead them, because we were misled. It must stop now.
The situation isn’t futile and it isn’t hopeless. We as South Africans have many examples of extraordinary role models to look up to and we are blessed to have them in this country. That said, there is a generation brimming with potential, a generation desperate for an opportunity. Let us be the ones to give them that.
This generation is not one of a divided past, but of a shared future. They are children of the Northern Cape, of the Kalahari and of the Karoo. They are the children of the Western Cape, shaded by Table Mountain and sheltered by the forests of the Tsitsikamma. They are the children on the beaches of Port Elizabeth and East London, they dwell in the Drakensberg and through the sugar plantations of KwaZulu Natal. They are the children of the industrial might of Johannesburg, they are the children who feast on the citrus of Limpopo. They cherish the beauty of Mpumalanga’s low-veld, together they gaze at the brilliant sunsets of the North West and they share the fertile earth of the Free State.
They share more and have more in common than what they differ. Let’s teach them to celebrate their differences and rejoice in what they share. And us, let us be the proud custodians of their future.