What we can learn about changing for the better
Most of us are to some degree resistant to change.
Think of how irritated you are when a new traffic light is erected in town. Remember your frustration when the new RICA and FICA laws were passed for your phone and bank account? Changes – even small ones – require us to adapt. It requires us to disrupt our lives, and most adults don’t like it.
That is why we need the youth.
Whereas most of us are resistant to change (partly to protect our financial security and family lives), the youth wants to see the world changed for the better. Their spirit and passion is often what is needed to change the wrongs in our society.
Youth uprisings in history and today
It is not only in South Africa that youth and student protests has brought about huge social changes. The USA, France, Ireland and the middle East all have stories to tell.
In the 1960 and 70s, the American youth was instrumental in resisting the War in Vietnam, as well as furthering the civil rights movement.
Four students were killed at Kent State University and nine were injured when the National Guard opened fire on a crowd gathered to protest the Vietnam War.
Today young people from the USA are protesting for stricter gun control laws, saying they “refuse to accept gun violence as an unsolvable issue.”
South Africa’s youth uprisings 1976
On 16 June we celebrate youth day in South Africa.
In 1976, after years of unreasonable policies concerning their education, young people decided to stand up for themselves. Their education system was in tatters. In 1961 only 10 per cent of their teachers held a matriculation certificate. And whereas the government spent R644 annually for each white child, only R42 was budgeted for children of other ethnicities.
So next time someone mutters something negative about ‘ the youth of today’, remember that it’s the youth who risks everything to change the world for the better.
“Youth can not know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
— J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5))
Let us be thankful for the progress we’ve made in restoring SA broken past. And let us not resist the changes we still need.
For the list of names of the young people who died during the June uprisings, click here.