Random Forays: Young voices should be heard carefully
A young voice needs to be heard, with attention, respect even. Ideation and innovation usually come from the young; dynamism and enthusiasm are also recognised to be youthful qualities.
The tendency that society usually has, of brushing aside the opinions of the youth, needs a serious rethink. The age of exercising the right of franchise was pegged at 18, long years ago. But, by and large, the older ones tend to think that the young are brash and reckless. They forever feel that the young don’t know what’s good for them; not realising that they had thought just the opposite when they were young!
A young voice needs to be heard, with attention, respect even. Ideation and innovation usually come from the young. Dynamism and enthusiasm are also recognised to be youthful qualities. One is not disputing the fact that there are many exceptions to the rule, but it is universally accepted that the young usually possess more energy and pzazz. Their ideas do matter.
A millennial who is glued to a screen during all his awake hours, in contrast to a parent who walks, practises yoga, shuttles between workplaces, etc. might indicate a contrarian scenario. The screen affords a getaway from conversations with “grown-ups”, which the young cringe about. But very often it is the proclivity of parents to pooh-pooh the opinions voiced by their progeny, that forces them to go into their shell.
And if this rather common familial tendency is extrapolated to the level of society at large, it is apparent that a similar divide exists between seniors and juniors almost everywhere. Very few newcomers possess the gumption to speak up in the face of authoritarian presence. Juniors in most organisations are usually forced to be deferential and to obey commands in silence. Rare is the company or department that is able to facilitate an ecosystem of harmony, parity, diversity and empathy.
“Good touch and bad touch” guidelines for parents and schools advocate that the grown-up listener should be observant and receptive to even the slightest hint of anything amiss. A child is not a natural communicator, barring exceptions, and usually depends on monosyllables or short sentences, even while talking to his or her friends. Long gossip sessions that we adults often indulge in are not for school going children. And even when they decide to have longer exchanges with their peers, these days they tend to depend on texts rather than voice conversations. When a teenager says that she was “talking” to a friend about something, she might actually have been texting, not speaking.
Teenagers of the era are particularly afflicted by overthinking. They do not vent out their fears for the fear of being ridiculed and take to social media overdoses in order to escape the real world. By listening to them patiently whenever they do speak up, their parents would do them a world of good.
The ongoing collective protest by wrestlers, which has unfortunately led to flared tempers, is another case of indifference by the mighty system when it comes to appreciating younger voices. The depressing scenario of champion athletes having to take to the streets and resort to extreme measures lays bare the couldn’t-care-less attitudes of the ultra-powerful.
If pleas of internationally-recognised medal-winners are not heard, what hope does a young girl have of being taken seriously when she lodges a complaint against harassment at a village chowki? Dialogue and discussion are always superior options instead of exercise of raw power. Had the protestors been senior position-holders the case may have been differently dealt with.
There is something very callous about an organised hierarchy that does not pay heed to the opinions or requests of lowly juniors. Such callousness is in evidence in many instances on a regular basis, only to be much talked about when it becomes front-screen news. Most protests against cases of apathy and torment that the young have to face are squashed at the outset by powers that be.
What then should a young boy or girl do when he or she is bullied or harassed by those who are older and more powerful? Where does he or she go to be heard?
Empathy and understandibng are signs of true leadership. Authority is no match for respect. And respect comes from being a good listener!