Grads facing an uncertain world

We are marking the end of another school year with graduation ceremonies at various schools in our town and the neighbouring communities.

We are marking the end of another school year with graduation ceremonies at various schools in our town and the neighbouring communities.

That is, we are seeing off another batch of young people as they set out on their next journey, one on which they will make a lot of decisions, will have to take responsibility for them, deal with the outcomes of their choices, some good, some bad and will have to learn to get up after they fall.

Fall, they definitely will, each and every one of them, on various paths, for one reason or another, but they will learn how to become stronger as they learn how to get up each time they fall.

In that process, these young people will have to face much bigger challenges than the previous generation has had to, but they will also have a much wider set of opportunities and a bigger set of tools than even the last generation before them.

Obviously, the wealth of the opportunities they will enjoy stems primarily from the digital information revolution. With the vast ocean of information waiting to be accessed through Internet, it only takes finding right words to search the topic on the cyberspace and to start building the proper blocks to take one to advancing on one or another path.

It is no secret that the availability of such a mass of easily available information has also changed the way young people are shaping the way they think and act; they find the social norms, attitudes and behaviour that marked the development of the generation of their parents outdated and they have no problems expressing their intention to replace them.

In short, they are ready to challenge the patterns of the old and establish the parameters for the new.

They may be right on the money.

Because the world we have known is changing brutally fast, and those who cannot keep up with the pace of the transformations we have been going through may be unable to survive the tumult that is likely to be more tangible as time goes by.

From the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency in the US to the increasing probability of dissolution of the European Union to possible implosion of Japan under its mountains of debt and to the potential of military conflict in the South China Sea in addition to the already burning Middle East, the world is awash with hotspots of instability. At the current level of globalization and swift interaction of all political, social and/or financial factors, no one is immune to the repercussions of such crises happening around the globe, even in our quiet and -by most standards-tranquil Canada.

Gone are the days when a university degree would mean a lifelong, secure income generated by a permanent job, a handsome bank account would provide the security for a decent standard of living and the retirement would come with comfort and ease.

The time is of increasing gaps between haves and have-nots, of rising poverty, malnutrition, insecurity and the danger of being left out.

The question here is a vital one for both those bright young people setting out on their new life paths and those elders who are supposed to be advising them: Who is better equipped to deal with the challenges of so unforgivingly changing times?

Will the ability of the young to seek and find information extend to the point of drawing the right conclusions and make the correct choices in vital matters?

Alternatively, is the older generation really capable of keeping abreast of the transformations in a way that will be adequate to guide the young in an increasingly uncertain world?

Undoubtedly these questions, and their answers, may mean different things to different individuals depending on where they sit on the social or economic scale.

But what is common to all the various versions of the reflection of those questions is the mystery that looks at all of us right in the face: How much are we in control of our own fate?

 

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