[People] The young leaders of today are the hope of tomorrow By Fr. Shay Cullen

The young leaders of today are the hope of tomorrow
By Fr. Shay Cullen

325-Fr. Shay Cullen

The incredible courage, bravery, and dedication of young people is what the world needs to inspire and lead us into the future. Malala Yousafzai is a striking example of the capability of the youth to give the good example where adults are failing. Her speech to the United Nations ignited the hope and activism of youth around the world.

Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban assassin because she was such a powerful determined advocate of the universal right to education. She shows just how influential young people can be if only we listen to them and allow them to have their role and to take the lead at times.

The adult leaders, parents, teachers politicians, and the general public should realize that there are great youth leaders and youth groups who are giving their time and energy to saving the planet, helping the hungry, the oppressed, jailed children and they are campaigning for one important cause or another. They need the encouragement and support of the adult world because they deserve it; it’s the right and good way to educate and develop good positive and caring character and personality in youth while growing up. The youth are the leaders of the future and they will take on the duty and obligation to support the passing aging generation.

What they need to grow strong and mature, besides healthy food and education, is for their inner self to be nourished with spiritual values. These are positive attitudes, relationships that cannot be bought at the supermarket such as trust, respect, affirmation, inspiration, encouragement, good example, security, emotional support, affection and friendship.

A nation is judged by the way it cares and nurtures its children. How very true this is. Parents, teachers, and authorities in general ought to put aside the age old practice of asserting negative authority over young people. The youth are filled with a desire to be acknowledged, respected, and encouraged in their activities and not to be scolded, judged and chided for youthful enthusiasm, immaturity, and mistakes. We all make mistakes so tolerance, understanding, patience, and forbearance is what adults need to have towards them. Then they will learn to overcome human frailties as they grow to maturity.

Given that encouragement and respect, they will become advocates of the good and beautiful just as Malala has done. Her parents are also to be admired for giving her the opportunity and support in her pursuit of education and the rights of all to go to school in the face of threats and intimidation.

It must be seen that these youthful heroes are striving to do good for all and what greater good is there than to sacrifice for the well-being of others. The young people of the world have these surging desires and hopes and must be allowed to exercise them with trust and as team work with adults.

Openings must also be made, to give as many as possible opportunities to express themselves in the arts, music and theatre. Self-expression is essential for young people to come to a sense of their own self-worth and value as a human person. They reach that through the opportunities provided to them by the adults in their lives.

There is the Filipino Akbay Theater group supported by the Preda Foundation. Over the past many years, group after group have trained, practiced and performed their musical drama to near perfection. They are passionate and dedicated to inspiring and enlightening the audiences about the social realities of life of young people. They use this as a form of self-expression and an educational tool that appeals to the heart, emotions, and minds of the audience.

They spend hours and day in preparation for their local and international tours across Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. There, they have inspired many people who moved to tears and came to an emotional and mental awaking. Then, with their own, real characters formed on this commitment, most carry it over to lives of virtue. They have honesty and integrity as strong-minded servant leaders. When they marry and have a family, the same life-enhancing virtues of loving, care and sacrifice for their wives, husbands and children is clearly apparent.

The volunteers at Preda Centre, Olongapo, Filipinos and from several nationalities, are the model of youth in action. They are living out their belief and faith in a greater eternal force of goodness and love. The Gospel message of the good Samaritan is uppermost in their hearts and they want the opportunity to make it a reality in their everyday lives. These are the youth leaders of today and the best hope of good leaders in the future.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

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