Recently, the ongoing concern about the coronavirus pandemic taking over the world and the damages it may cause in the near future has led to the inability to control societies and individuals; our minds and hearts became preoccupied with this.
However, our obsession with the virus has overshadowed our thinking to the point that it invaded our minds before our bodies to an illogical degree, and even limited the role of the majority of us to just staying at home.
That is why I found it my duty to draw your attention, dear reader, towards a very important topic that has always gripped me and occupied my mind, until it became one of my top priorities and goals, something I aspire to offer to help contribute to the progress and advancement of nations and societies: The youth and their potential.
I have often been asked about the reason for my keen interest in the youth, and why I exert most of my efforts towards discovering, generating, and developing their potential energies. My answer was always somewhat different each time, depending on the situation and to whom it was addressed, but the heart of what I say has always been the same.
My vision is that the youth are the most important pillar on which society is built. Their potential represents a generation with broad knowledge, full of renewal, eager for achievement, and waiting for the opportunity to show the world its creativity and capabilities.
Indeed, youth is a fundamental stage in a everyone’s life, starting from realizing the nature of oneself and building personality, defining intellectual, ideological, professional and social identity, until reaching maturity and many years of progress, achievement and contribution to building society and preserving its continuity.
Therefore, the youth represent the backbone on which humankind has depended at all times, as they are link between the old and the new. Just like a relay race where the youth receive the baton from the previous generation to complete the mission until it is time to hand over the baton again to the younger generation that comes after them.
Obviously, I do not deny the importance of the role of the previous or later generations, but it is just like what happens on the race track, as the youth represent the runner who is holding the baton, the one who the crowds encourage and cheer for until he finishes his distance. As it appears, the predecessor received his share of contribution and attention, and the successor will be waiting to play his role.
It is very often the case that the stage of youth is accompanied by the qualities of juvenility, modernity and activity. This really gives it a great importance in my view, because renewal is what gives something new to the spirit, which is what humanity is in constant need of to make revolutions that change its course, in order to achieve progress and sustainable development.
The biggest proof of this is that currently, the biggest companies in the world — companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Disney, which have radically changed our lives — were founded by people who were in the prime of their youth. They have been successful and contributed to making our lives different the better, which allowed us to make progress on the path of development.
In this context, an important question arises: How do we define the stage of youth, and for how many years does it extend? Some say it spans from the age of 15 to the age of 25, while others say it extends into one’s thirties. However, I think it is unfair to restrict the spirit of youth to a certain period, because this stage is not associated with age. Rather, we can call people young when they have certain qualities such as liveliness, activity, peak of giving, productivity and intellectual creativity, and this, in my view, is what makes it the most important stage of life — in my opinion, the dominant stage.
Therefore, we need to exert tremendous effort to take care of the youth, to try to embrace their potentials, invest their creativity, and push them to more contribution depending on what each of them excels at.
If we want to talk about the ways and methods to build strong, intelligent youth, we will find ourselves facing many fields and domains that will need many more articles. Therefore, I will very briefly touch on two important domains:
The Educational Domain:
The stage of youth usually begins while a person is still pursuing their education, and here we should mention that choosing the one’s college major is of vital importance, and requires the person to be very careful. How often do we see young people who give up before completing their education, and are unable to move forward because they did not make the right choice? How often do we see young people who finished their education and began their professional life, only to find themselves working in a field completely different from their academic specialization, either because they could not use what they have studied, or because they lost the desire to work in the field they studied in?
There are many reasons that may contribute to such problems, such as trying to satisfy the desire of one’s parents or society when choosing a major, or hastiness and not thinking carefully when choosing a field of study. Such important decisions must be studied carefully and cautiously, while making the true desire of the young person the foreground, apart from the desires of others or society’s stereotypes about each major, not forgetting to consider all possible options.
However, I am not encouraging the youth to make this important decision by themselves without seeking advice from their parents, experienced people or advisers. Rather, I am calling on them to be honest with themselves when choosing, not paying attention to the pressures imposed on them, but taking advice and listening to the opinions of those around them who have sufficient experience on this matter.
The Professional Domain:
The importance of the professional field lies in the fact that a young person starts becoming productive and puts their mark on their community or the world when they enter this stage. There is no doubt that the youth around the world — and especially in the Arab world — suffer from unemployment, which is an unjustified waste of our most important fortune.
We cannot blame anyone in particular for this problem, or even suggest a solution that is limited to a specific category of people. Such a problem falls on the youth themselves when they decide to sit idly by and wait for job opportunities to come to them without persistence and searching for what they aspire to. It also falls upon communities and governmental bodies that do not invest and employ these potentials as they should.
By this, we find that creating opportunities to employ the potentials and experiences of the youth in a way that fits their ambition, while also providing supervision, support and care, is what leads to continuous creativity, and satisfactory results in changing all aspects of society for the better. This will contribute to the development of our youth, and thus the development of our societies.
Based on that, dear reader, I must draw your attention to the necessity of giving the youth the confidence they deserve and treating them as people who are able to take care of themselves and their society. Confining the youth to certain tasks, forcing them to stay away from responsibility, and forcing them adhere to the ways of older generations cannot produce a generation characterized by innovation and creativity.
What we need to do now is to provide an appropriate platform through which the youth can demonstrate their achievements and experiences to the whole world. But unfortunately, there is no Arab platform that unites the potential of Arab youth. That is why you see many of our young people dream about traveling abroad to study or work — because they find it a better opportunity to improve their lives. And as a result, we lose many indispensable young talents and capabilities.
Giving the youth confidence and support is what enables us to see positive outcomes, greater impact and more creativity from our youth, all of which drives our societies forward.
Finally, I call on our youth — and the world’s youth — to seize this stage of their lives and to be honest first of all with themselves, and then with those around them. I also call on them to look within themselves in an attempt to recognize what really sets them apart from others, to begin to develop their experiences and skills, and to offer whatever they can to their societies, which need them, especially in these times. I also call on those responsible for the youth to pay attention to them, listen to their opinions and ideas, and try to use them appropriately.
The problems and challenges facing our societies may be many, and getting rid of them may not be easy, but with continuous and honest work, we can overcome them in order to advance our nations and the whole world. Just as the idea of change and determination begins with the individual, bringing about change requires collective efforts to make it a reality.
The key to the success of this change is the youth, who must not forget that God has created each of us with something special. Trust yourself and do not let daily events affect you. Choose your friends carefully, because friends are mirrors to each other. Stay away from negative people and always look for the positive. You should know that successful people work hard and with determination to achieve their goals.
Image: Youths wait for the bus outside Manar university in Tunis, Tunisia October 14, 2019. (REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi)