Youth: The Core of Humanism
by Donna Darantinao
“I did not start too young.”
It must be a popular belief that the youth is the key to the progression of this ever-changing world. From the tips of pens of martyrs and fallen heroes, they have always seen the future generation as the frontliners to promote a world following values that defy a system—a system that has pushed us back and slowed down our steps towards a better society. Although this system is mainly for hierarchy and organization of principles through a perceived reality or social construct, as we ascend in time, these constructs have majorly (negatively) affected the lives of those who do not adhere to norms or to oppressive beliefs.
Far and wide, the world consists of stories of injustices and discrimination all because a huge number of people fail to tolerate differences and to see that there is no one above or below from one another. We have all known appalling stories of slavery, religion, prejudice, power, war, and many more that have kept us shaking all night, hairs on our arms standing up, our minds wondering why there should be oppressions in a world where we could’ve been accepting and tolerant.
However, if one must think about it, if it were not for all these stories we have heard from the roads or from our forerunners, would we have broken free from what was and move forward to the what-should-be? The sacrifices of the freethinkers of the past have led us to the purpose that we should be pushing for.
Now that progress is observed in many parts of the world, it is clear that the youth is playing a major role in the prosperity of humanism and there is no question there. Why is it so important for humanism to breed amongst the youth? This is mainly answered by the words of English humanist and novelist, Edward Morgan Forster, “The humanist has four leading characteristics – curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.”
Curiosity. Cognitive psychologists Robert Halpern, Paul Heckman, and Rick Larson mention that adolescence is the time when the enormous potential for learning is observed and is most of the time ignored. It is important to give attention to this because as we all know, learning is met at its best when young people can focus in-depth on a few things at a time, seeing clear purpose, and when they have vital roles to fill in like application and making connections.
In addition, since humans are social animals, socialization is very common among the youth. Learning is most of the time effective when it is a shared activity within meaningful relationships and when it allows for increasingly responsible participation—this is where they feel involved and free.
Free mind. Literacy is always an important factor to mold a free mind. Also, molding is very important when realized at an early stage of life as it would strengthen by the years to come. Why is it important for someone to exercise this? Because being a free mind liberates you from the definitions of what you should be in this world. It frees you from the dictation of what status you should hold in our society.
As we are educated during the early moments of our youth, it is important to incorporate values that incorporate freethinking. Must one really have a higher being in control to act accordingly? Can one act humanly without the thought of it as a requirement towards salvation?
Belief in good taste. This may be a tricky characteristic as we cannot adequately understand or put words to what good taste means since ‘good’ varies from one person to another. Many people would prefer something as good to be something aesthetically pleasing, but 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant may have a close definition of this as being able to reflect upon something indefinitely. Good taste is an intellectual fascination that requires us to discover all parts of one thing, although it may require a lot of work. Thus, if we believe in good taste, we perceive it as something that challenges us intellectually and constantly making us reflect on it moving forward.
The youth is very participative especially during these times because of a lot of issues going on, mostly about political stands or religious beliefs, and it is very important that they are able to know what is good for humanity for them to believe in something that does not compromise others. Although the meaning of good is, still a very debatable subject, as long as it journeys towards independence from oppression or any injustice, it ought to be continuously believed in.
Belief in the human race. Definitely! This is what humanism is all about. No other religion or belief should be above one another BUT humanity, itself. There should be nothing above us but us, alone. Everyone in this world should be motivated in pushing for the greater good of humanity including the environment. Now, this would start with respect because everything else follows. With respect, there is tolerance. With tolerance, there is neither discrimination nor prejudice.
Since the youth has the capability to be able to lead a long way of compassion, then it is important for them to believe in humanity and the wonders that are brought upon by believing that we may be divided but that is never a hindrance for denying acceptance. Again, no one is above the other.
If you may have been opened to humanism at an early age, do not fret. No one is either ever too young or too old to start caring for humanity without the approval of a higher being. There is no fear and pressure, but only a decision according to your own time.
Because the youth play a vital role in humanism, it is very important that they are given the chance to exceed their capacities. “A sustainable future depends on having resilient populations, which cannot be achieved without investments in young people,” the late Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said, former Executive Director of UNFPA (the UN Population Fund). This is from an article by Carol Smith from Our World, the United Nations University.
Young people are able to speak for themselves; they just need a platform, a chance, a time. Humanism is progressing. Humanism should start amongst the youth to be future forerunners.
Kudos to the youth!