“Youths are the leaders of tomorrow”, brave Nelson Mandela once said. A saying which can be considered a cliché nowadays, but the telling still holds. What is an institution without the voice of youth? Nevertheless, a nation. Our country boasts a great history of adolescents having a say and making a positive change. Just look at the Sette Giugno riots in 1919, where young people lost their lives while defending their motherland, our Malta, a country they loved.
As a proud young Maltese citizen, it pains me to hear of people encouraging our younger generation to flee their home rather than fight for whatever change they see fit. Do we honestly want to return to a time where, due to the incompetence of past administrations, teenagers were being stripped away from their families and shipped to the other side of the world just because there was no foreseeable future in this country? In contrast to nowadays, where education is accessible to all, while also having the lowest ever unemployment rate in Maltese history.
Everybody is entitled to have an opinion. That is how democracy works. However, having a view of substance should be of more value than an agenda riddled with fearmongering.
It pains me to hear of people encouraging our younger generation to flee their home rather than fight for whatever change they see fit.
That being said, we shouldn’t discourage young people from taking opportunities outside the country, far from it. It would be hypocritical of me to say, as I, for one, have benefited from multiple student exchanges and educational trips abroad. These offshore experiences are valuable and intrinsic to any adolescent student and young person in general, as they offer social and knowledge-gaining benefits and give youths a taste of different cultures they are unlikely to experience at home. However, one must differentiate this from the discourse, which is only said to suit a particular agenda.
Who is to say that there hasn’t been any Maltese adolescents who made a name for themselves on this island? This can be displayed both politically and apolitically. In this year’s general election, 16 youth candidates were elected to Malta’s highest institution. A conversion rate of 69% of all youths contesting. Among these, candidates as young as 18 were elected. An impressive feat for a country labelled so badly by some that they encourage young people to “pack up and leave”. As for apolitical success, Malta boasts a wide range of young Olympians, music artists, and tech gurus who have brought us international acclaim but were nurtured on these shores.
In this year’s general election, 16 youth candidates were elected to Malta’s highest institution.
What does the future hold for young people in this country? Trends keep showing us that young people are becoming more and more conscious of their environment, both natural and socio-political. Around the world, significant strides need to be taken to care better for the planet. Locally, considerable investment is promised for a ‘greener’ Malta. However, adolescents want to see results, and I believe we should encourage young people to push for change and improvement. The same reasoning should also be made for our socio-political climate.
Whether or not one is to criticise an administration, which everyone has a right to, it would be more effective if young people make their voices heard through various other democratic practices. This can be done by voting in elections and expressing public opinions, rather than encouraging them to close the door on their country and head abroad.
As accurate as Mandela’s words can get, we should add a little remark at the end. Yes, “youths are the leaders of tomorrow”, but time tells us they are also today’s leaders. A country with a rich history of young people pushing progressive agendas, such as the Cannabis reform, which started from a youth branch, should be allowed to help shape this country’s future.
I, for one, believe that the future is ours and am more than comfortable saying that I would like to be part of a push towards progressing and bettering our country for the benefit of current and future generations.
Our message is clear: The future is in our hands, and no agenda will ever remove that fact.