So many of us have become accustomed to speaking about the youth as the hope of the nation, but what many of us fail to recognize is that fulfilling this hope requires action.
All of our leaders today were once part of the youth sector, and to say that many of them have come to represent disillusionment in government work instead of the promise of hope that was once seen in them is an understatement.
When we know for a fact that hope can sometimes fail, we need to make sure we exert all efforts for hope to succeed.
These past few months, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), through its Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs, have been holding provincial youth consultations across the region. What started out as an initiative to map the political and socio-economic landscape of the youth sector in the ARMM has become a welcome reminder of the great and yet still untapped potential that the youth holds.
While it is easy to associate the Bangsamoro youth with issues unique to the region such as the pitch for just and genuine autonomy, they have also faced issues that many Filipino youth confront on a regular basis. This includes inaccessibility of basic social services and lack of opportunities, both of which have been among the primary concerns of the regional government in recent years. Programs that directly address these various issues that block the path towards a brighter future for the Bangsamoro youth have been successful in more ways than one, and yet there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Responding to the needs of the youth while providing them guidance and counsel that is grounded in their daily experiences is of utmost importance, especially when the youth’s passion for a meaningful cause can just as easily lead to impulsive action, when their vibrant idealism can just as easily lead to vulnerability to radical ideologies, and their hopeful disposition can just as easily lead to denial when faced with an unforeseen challenge.
This is why conversation such as the ones that the regional government shares with the youth through the consultation series is important, especially in an era of so-called post-truth. These are the times when meaningful discourse is threatened by “alternative facts” – things that were once simply known and identified as blatant lies –and the youth is exposed to a myriad forms of dishonesty and deception.
And when deception is as pervasive among the youth as it is today, it is not only our present narrative that needs to be safeguarded but also our shared history as Bangsamoros. We need to constantly and consistently tell each other the stories of those who came before us, those sworn truths that breathe life into the shared struggles that encompasses almost the entirety of our shared history.
But in protecting and preserving the things we wish to pass on to the youth, we must also give them enough time and space to grow into their own persons – that while we strongly feel about the things we want them to inherit, we must be careful to not cross the line that separates information from imposition.
Achieving this balance is a challenge, but with open lines of communication and willingness to listen to each other, it is not impossible.
When we say that the youth is the hope of our nation, we must remember that the youth is not perfect, nor is the future that they will be living in. But there is a lot that we can do given our limited time and resources to make sure that the youth will be a stronger generation in the future and that they will live in a better, more secure and peaceful time than the one we are living in today.
It also important that we do not underestimate the capabilities of the youth, no matter how tempting it may seem given their age or demeanor. Their perspective counts as much as ours do, and only by engaging the youth sector as equals can we gain their trust and confidence in working together towards the Bangsamoro that those who came before us dreamed and fought for us.
Consulting the youth is just the beginning of a meaningful and productive conversation that we can all share as we carry the weight of shared responsibilities and continue the fight for shared and equal rights, as we ensure that the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination, peace, and justice is won. The youth may very well be the hope of this nation, but we will not move forward without meaningful and progressive action.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.