SOS from youths

Recently a 25-years-old management student, from a reputed college in Nepal, bludgeoned his close friend to death in a fit of rage, when she allegedly proposed marriage to him. Obviously, it was not just his commitment phobia or her repeated demands that caused this sudden backlash of murderous emotions. It was probably the overwhelming stress of being young and pressurized in a mercilessly competitive world that made him go berserk.

Obviously, while higher education had equipped the two with a degree, it had not imparted them the wisdom required to deal with life’s challenges and disappointment or to handle relationships or to recognize signs or mounting tension. Nothing tells them that there is a sane way out. It’s a private hell, it’s misery and turmoil compounded by the fact that they are watched and judged at every step. Rejection traumatizes them, struggle crushes them. Then, there are the pre-decided milestones they are supposed to cross at a pre-decided age and time, whether they are ready to do so or not.

Marriage is supposed to follow courtship, settling down is considered next in line with getting a job and questioning fundamental social institutions is regarded audacious. The message is that they must make the grade at all costs. Yet, as youngsters live the changes of an evolving society, they find some of these institutions existing past their expiry date, their wisdom outdated and questionable, their usefulness under cloud. On the one hand, they want to belong and be accepted, on the other, they want to break free and experiment. These contradictions befuddle and terrorize them, resulting in self-doubt, depression and anger.

What they need the most is someone to tell them that it’s okay not to conform, natural to be perplexed, human to err however mercenary and hardened we think they are. The truth is that they are vulnerable and do not want to be on a collision course with us. All they want is to talk, to communicate, to be reassured. If we are to reconstruct a pathology imbibed by us through years of conditioning, media images of distorting influences of culture, the least we can do is listen patiently and empathetically.

It takes a village to raise a child, but a kind, deeply sensitized world to save the youth.