COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Every June 19, we remember the natal day of Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero who addressed that “the youth is the hope of the motherland.” On the national scene, Rizal’s birth is not much celebrated as that of his death which carries a historical meaning. But maybe except for Jesus Christ, those men who made a dent on humanity were more remembered for their accomplishments, some noted for their heroic and fatal end but rarely any for their origin.
Yet as we embark on the second century of our nationhood, remembering Rizal is taking stock of his statement, the man being the bedrock of nationalism himself.
If the war that took place a century ago was political in nature, that is, who will rule a certain territory inhabited by people who were consciously becoming a nation; the war to engage in this century is cultural—what way of life shall prevail. Will it be a Western way of life, Asian, an East-West mix, or something distinctly Filipino.
This is where the youth, the youth of today is being challenged to undertake in waging a more tedious kind of battle.
But how can it be pursued when the tenets of rugged individualism are slowly making wolves out of our very young. Simply listen to two grade school pupils animatedly talking at how their teachers taught them to cheat—as a last resort—in the National Elementary Achievement Test just for their respective schools to place at the top.
One time while I was riding on a jeep, two mothers were exchanging feedback on how much money was spent by this candidate and that to win in the SK elections. Both were amazingly fascinated at how smart the young contenders had become at easily adopting the ways of the traditional politician.
Another occasion was when a community organizer with a theological background came to a conclusion that we need leaders who bring results. To what use is an honest man if he doesn’t get the job done? This he said after denouncing that non-government organizations are more corrupt than government agencies, stressing that only about 15-20 per cent of the funds actually reaches the grassroots or intended targets.
Maybe there is some truth to an observation made by a college professor that today’s youth is a lost generation. Well if we take various accounts printed under Youngblood in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, there is a wave of disillusionment pervading among our young and a seeming dissatisfaction with life even before starting at one.
My observation is that many of our youth of today are better skilled which make them good assembly line workers, but appear to have a deteriorating sense of right and wrong. Anything becomes permissible as long as you win, get ahead, get results, or get the job done. Others who tend to get alarmed by the seeming confusion around also make an escape in rigid spirituality, trying to avoid anything political much more secular lest they lose their souls.
And so again to repeat Rizal’s musing that the youth is the hope of the motherland, we need to qualify each relevant word in that statement, who among the youth and how great the amount of hope. But the initial question being placed before us is: How are we molding our youth?