Carvajal: Braving a bright future

Break Point
SunStar Carvajal
SunStar Carvajal

It’s the season for commencement speakers to give earnest advice to graduates on how to move on with their lives. Since we are talking of youthful graduates, some advice translates into how to be the future of the country.

I have not listened to any commencement address but I chanced on this written advice to graduates. It first extolled our traditional values of strong family ties, respect for elders, hospitability, industry and optimism. The writer went on to contend that the way to be the future of this country is for the youth to uphold these traditional values.

I respectfully beg to disagree. To bring this country to a bright future, more than just uphold traditional (colonial?) values we need to step over some like our unthinking subservience to those in authority and acquire the value of independent thinking, of trusting our own reason in making critical life decisions. With independent thinking we might yet get social justice into our blood, a value the elders we are subservient to have minimal appreciation for.

The future of this country lies in how the youth innovate and create new ways of coping with the challenges of a vastly changed and changing world. The future of this country lies in how the youth challenge traditional values on account of, or in spite of, which millions of us are enduring an ambiguous present and facing an uncertain future.

I have to admit having great difficulty seeing a bright future at the end of the road our political, religious and business elders have sweet-talked this country into taking. Our current economic, political and cultural (religious?) ways of coping with a fast-changing social reality have so far succeeded in transporting us to a present that 30 million or so Filipinos can hardly call bright and progressive.

We have to change ways. Which means that the youth have to dare come up with innovative and creative ways of dealing with our current social reality. Our social systems have failed, the political to be democratic, the economic to be equitable and the cultural to be independent, critical and innovative.

Graduation ceremonies should remind educators that the youth need to learn to think for themselves and decide which values to uphold, which to reject and what new values to acquire. We cannot go business as usual. This nation needs to change or it goes down in history as a failed nation.

For this nation to eventually provide the common good to its people as a democratic republic should, the youth must critique the political, economic and cultural (religious) ways of elders. They particularly need to acquire the values of social justice and authenticity, values that the greed of land and business owners, the lust for power of political bosses and the otherworldliness of religious leaders have smothered with suffocating hypocrisy.

If the youth are to be the future of this country, they need to brave a new path towards an equitably bright future for all.

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