Walking through the streets of Thessaloniki, and enjoying a free afternoon, I saw a tree in front of me that caught my attention. It was decorated with lanterns that swayed gently in the summer breeze. I stopped to take a picture of them. An interesting and unusual sight, worth photographing in my opinion, because that is exactly what I enjoy, the small things.
It is my habit before I go to sleep to look at the photos I have taken to remind myself of the beautiful experiences I have gathered during the day. In addition to the landscapes of the sea, the coast, the sunset and the beautiful surroundings in the center of the city, I also saw the photo with the lanterns. It had something unusual about it that got me thinking and writing this column.
Second look at it today, and my attention is drawn to the shop window. I see the human figures, their faces. Their facial expressions resemble each other, and they are all serious. Just like us, the people, the youth. When and why did we become so serious?
The times in which we live means adjusting to an already established system of values that very often do not correlate with the real and natural ones. The problems usually arise from several features of our society that can be said that threaten the freedom of each individual.
Apathetic and indifferent. Like the figures in the shop window. No emotion, no expression... Direct consequences resulting from the absence of interest. Avoiding the problem only deepens, delays and confirms the decay of a generation, which, looking back, will regret the times it missed.
Strong partisanship in political thinking among young people is also a major problem that every young person faces. Youth are not capable of standing up and leading major political issues, which include topics of education, economy, health. The position of young people in politics is at a very low level, not only because of the pressure that is imposed on them, but also because of the lack of courage to raise an intellectual revolution against certain structures. Faced with the strong egoism of everyday life projected through the prism of parties and their henchmen, young people become very demotivated and stop thinking politically about improving the conditions around them.
Education, instead of striving to enable young people to find themselves and to mature as academic citizens, only helps them in self-destruction and self-limitation. Educational policies do not allow them to demonstrate their qualities and destroy the supportive environment to fulfill their desires, ideas and actions. They do not have the option of self-expression and self-fulfillment, they are not motivated to further thinking outside of the box.
Today's devastating economic and social consequences of the pandemic, the energy crisis, inflationary pressures and the alarming increase of the cost of living, a large part of families do not have enough finances to live on. More and more often we see disillusioned people who are worried about themselves, but also for the future of the whole family.
Young people are continuously leaving the region and this is no longer breaking news in the media. According to data from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in the last two decades more than 500,000 Macedonian citizens have permanently emigrated to the economically developed Western European and overseas
countries in order to seek their happiness. We need, finally, to understand their message, which is that the choice of destination shows exactly what they lack in our society.
Let us go back to the photo. Do you see the serious facial expressions on the human figurines looking from the shop window? Yes, it is us, our friends, relatives, families...
However, do not forget the tree, because it stands right in front of them and they see it. We see it too. We all see it everyday. Trees, due to their longevity, often leave the impression of static and unchanged. Nevertheless, they react quite intensively to any change in conditions in the environment, and express it in a clear, recognizable way. This tree is beautiful, and it carries the lanterns. They will light the way to a better tomorrow.
Do not be so serious, do not be disinterested and indifferent. Take the basic three steps: analyze, establish dialogue and act! The tools to achieve that can change, but the responsibility does not. The burden is on our generations to use everything we have to offer for a new real and mature youth participation, for themselves, for their peers and for all the new generations that follow.
So, let us ask ourselves, what can we do?
BA in Journalism and MA in Public Relations
Project coordinator at Association for Democratic Initiatives (ADI)