I was calmly driving on Canal Road in Lahore when a suddenly motorcyclist hurtled past my car at a high speed. The sound of the motorbike was loud because of the small silencer which the driver had probably installed to produce more noise from the engine.
The other day, I saw another motorcyclist doing a wheelie. Lord, these guys just do not value their lives. Later, I thought that this is not a matter of valuing life or not. Instead, it is a question of lacking direction in life and grappling with the resulting frustration that could ultimately translate into aggression.
The youth of Pakistan has energy. But what they really lack is the direction to channel that energy. It is a psychological fact that everyone likes to receive attention from others as it boosts self-esteem. When those who cannot or do not perform any appreciable work or feel left out, they try to gain attention through other means, even if they are dangerous. They just want to fulfil their attention-seeking desires.
Pakistan has one of the highest youth populations in the world. Young people are the present and the future of any country. If they are not utilised or given proper direction in life, it will be an exceptional waste of talent and skill. China and Singapore are reconsidering their one-child policy. They are now realising that increased reproduction will lead to more young people who will be able to become the leaders of the future.
These countries truly understand that young people are an asset that can strengthen the fortifications of their economy and prepare them for the future. They provide their youth with direction. As a result, young people have been successful in penetrating the fields of research, science, arts and technology, to name a few. This is possible in these countries because their national youth policies exist and their youth know exactly where to channel the energy.
The first and foremost responsibility of providing the children with direction lies with the parents. Later, at educational institutions, teachers develop an interest in students and encourage them do something productive.
An environment is strategically created within the country with the help of state-made principles. A child’s grooming begins at an early stage and gives him a suitable direction by the time he reaches adulthood. Having direction is as vital for us as drinking water.
The rest of the responsibility lies with the government to create opportunities in different fields for the youth to utilise the energy, skills and abilities through proper and socially acceptable channels, such as sports, entertainment and tourism. Pakistan’s national youth policy is the need of the hour.
Without direction, energy that exists in everyone in a specific quantity is wasted or channelised in the wrong direction and talent is thereby wasted. What if the speeding motorcyclist fell down while doing a wheelie? He may break his leg or arm. In that case, energy is not only wasted but bounces back in a negative form with greater intensity and affects the very fabric of society.
A magnifying glass, if it gathers its energy and diffuses on a single point, can light a fire. In a similar vein, young people also need to have a direction to focus in order to harness their immense potential and do wonders with their skill and talent. If they are not provided a platform to achieve this, the youth will be of no use or will eventually become disadvantageous to society.
The writer is a consultant psychologist.