Young Filipinos are among the most literate and educated in Asia. They hold the key to the future prosperity of the nation. Their long under-used energy needs to be mobilised in ways that deliver results.
Young Filipinos need to look beyond the lattes, text messages, and Facebook profiles that occupy their time. The challenge is to get them to regard their society under a different light. The reality needs to be impressed upon them that if the country continues on its current course, it will surely experience worsening conflicts between the haves and have nots, more frequent environmental catastrophes and spiralling living standards.
To achieve this, the minds of young Filipinos need to be freed from the prisons of tradition and obsolete mindsets.
Different solutions and approaches are needed to assure us a future that is different from the future we are currently facing.
The biggest challenges we need to overcome to assure us a bright future include:
- protection of the environment,
- controlling of the country's population
- narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, and;
- ending extreme poverty
The question is are our leaders focused on these challenges?
We need more thinking and less politics;
More meaningful action and less grandstanding;
More results and less slogans.
It is hard to imagine a different future when the people who are in office are still the same ones that your parents and even grandparents have known.
It is foolish to continue seeking guidance from a generation of Filipinos who squandered the opportunities that the country enjoyed in the 1950's.
Leaders of any democracy need to be evaluated with a critical mind. A critical mind can only thrive in an environment where challenges to authority are encouraged and not condemned; where healthy debate and sound arguments are tolerated rather than dismissed; where resolutions are achieved from a meeting of minds rather than mere deference to seniority.
Idealism should not lose out to cynicism and defeatism. Yet, the energy of idealism need not be directed towards street "revolutions" and other tired displays of youthful impatience.
Child-like questions can be repeatedly asked until a satisfying answer can be provided. Child-like questions are the youths' strongest weapons. They are most effective when wielded by fresh minds.
Young people should understand, study, and investigate the issues that affect them and others so that they can engage people of influence intelligently -- through letters to their representatives reminding them of their commitments and responsibilities. It is only through this that they could convincingly demand a dialogue between equals. Only then could young people be seen as an agent for change by people of influence.
Young people should see how businesses profit from their appetite for trendy things and how politicians mount cheap campaigns by inciting the youth to hit the streets. Instead of dancing to the tune of shrewd marketing and misguided slogans, young people should re-visit what being cool really means. It means being original, innovative and independent-minded and not beholden to brands and fads.
Our message to the youth: Do not be disheartened, indifferent, or apathetic. The cycle of poverty and corruption can stop with you.