‘The youth are the leaders of tomorrow.’ This is one phrase we have heard being repeated all our life. The ‘tomorrow’ is finally here, but how ready are we to take up the leadership responsibilities? I’ve often wondered what kind of leadership Kenya would have today if our parents had, in their youth, been exposed to what we are constantly being exposed to, mainly through the print and electronic media. It is hard to wager.
What one can tell with certainty, however, is that the ones who would have become our leaders would have been those who would have been able to resist the negative forces in an increasingly materialistic society and maximised on the positive ones. I strongly believe that this also applies to our generation.
Last year’s census figures revealed that the youth are the single most powerful voice to reckon with in the country. This means that, united, we can influence most of the major decisions affecting us: politics, economics and social life. Let us not squander this God-given opportunity. Let us show our parents that we are ready to take up the roles they have been promising us from our childhood. It is our time to participate actively in shaping Kenya’s future.
Joining politics is one way of doing so, and which can work wonders if we get the right people in there, but not very practical for the majority of us. A more realistic way would be for each one of us to try and exert a positive influence on whichever environment we find ourselves in. As one contemporary writer puts it, each of us has to be that fish carrying a pool of fresh water around us, to which other fish can come to breath the clean air when they get tired of swimming in the murky waters.
Undoubtedly, this is not as easy as it appears on paper. It means going against the grain several times; and not just obstacles which may be placed on our path by other people, but also going against principles we have previously believed to be true but which are not necessarily so. It also means dedicating time to study issues and explaining them to the people around us. But even more than the theoretical arguments – though they are necessary – it will be our behaviour that will have a greater impact on them.
This requires that we develop our character in such a way that we can stand by what we believe to be right, without being drawn to compromises. As Saint Josemaría Escrivá puts it in his book The Way, ‘Compromise is a word found only in the vocabulary of those who have no will to fight – the lazy, the cunning, the cowardly – for they consider themselves defeated even before they start. Let us stand up and be counted.