Being youth : A social-existential perspective

Fr Paul Lelen Haokip *

"Who so neglects learning in his youth loses the past and is dead to the future." (Euripedes)

As the year is just beginning to unfold itself, let us reflect on Being Youth. We have another reason to reflect as the Holy Father (Pope Francis) has dedicated the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be focused on the theme of "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment."

It will be held in Rome in October 2018. Pope Francis noted "The theme, an expression of the pastoral care of the Church for the young, is consistent with the results of the recent Synod assemblies on the family and with the content of the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Its aim is to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for life and realize it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the Church and of society."

The question of Existentialism, a 20th century philosophy concerned with questions about how and whether life has meaning, and why we exist is also the burning question of the youth today. By nature, a youth is friendly, cheerful, energetic and ready to face challenges.

It is a time when love-songs are written and poetries with sad-tones are composed for the loved ones. Interestingly, half of the population of India belongs to the youth.

This is one of the reasons the former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam gave importance to youth & students. Youth is also a time we make new commitments. I think youthfulness is the time we should prepare ourselves for the possible future life.

There is a saying, "People build houses during the dry season so that they can stay safe during the rainy season." It can also mean that YOUTH is a stage of preparation. It is a time of molding the future 'being'. It's a period with multiple expectations from self, friends, parents and others.

"Youth is something I never wanna take for granted. I just want to smile and live life" (Tyler).

As a youth, friendship is part and parcel of life. Friendship with boys and girls is indeed enriching. Friendship could also be extended to God, teachers, and most of all to your conscience within.

Friendship with the underprivileged people is more satisfying than partying away with a rich friend. A visit to lepers, HIV-AIDS patients, mentally challenged people; visiting old age homes, etc., are something really wonderful, psychologically healing and memorable. This is another side of human life.

On the contrary, if sickly behaviors (habits) come into your youthful life, they may destroy you like a worm that eats away the roots of the tree. To stay away from unhealthy influences is like fighting a violent sea.

But you have no other way than to accept these challenges as beautiful little problems and give a good fight. If anybody wants to mend his/her life the best time is the PRESENT time.

World of: Someone says, we are living in a world where we drink too much, smoke too much, spent money too recklessly, and laugh little. Laugh today because, you may never get another chance.

We drive too fast, get angry too much, stay up too late and get up too tired. We read too little, watch TV too much and pray too seldom. This is a time of fast foods and slow digestion, big man/woman with small character, steep profits mindedness and shallow relationship.

Time: Sophia Loren said, "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age".

One may say, I am a student, or employee - so I may not find time to do charitable works or face these challenges of life. Hold on! If 24 hours are given to everyone equally, why can't you make things happen in your lives while you are young? To know the value of one year - ask a person who failed in the final examination.

To know the value of one month - ask a mother about her prematurely born baby. To know the value of one minute, ask the person who has just missed his train, to know the value of a second, ask the person who just escaped an accident. To know the preciousness of one milli-second, ask the person who has won an Olympic race. That's time and it never repeats itself.

Responsibilities: As an Indian youth, you have your share of responsibility. Life is not only today, rather it is a journey, a pilgrimage and a process. You are called to develop upon your talents and serve the nation in some way. Therefore, a secret desire to change for the better should be your daily task.

Success is to be measured not so much by the position you have reached in life, but by the obstacles that you have overcome while trying to succeed. If you stop trying, you stop growing, if you stop growing - you start dying. And remember, you are called to keep trying.

* Fr Paul Lelen Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on February 20 , 2018.

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