By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
Many of our politicians have also adopted the phrase, although it is somewhat more mentally-fulfilling if said the other way around—the youths are the leaders of today. The irony lies in the fact that the young people are overlooked in the formation, implementation and monitoring of exactly those key decisions that will, ultimately, affect them because they are seen as, the leaders of “tomorrow”, not today. From a politically correct perspective, “youths are the leaders of tomorrow” is a somewhat incorrect cliché.
The use of the word “tomorrow” in any context, has a way of inducing complacency, and promoting the fading of the importance of actions and decisions, made today, in shaping tomorrow. According to well-known activist, Malcolm X, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today”. www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/…/the-future-belongs-to-those-who-prepare-for-it.
Why must the youth wait until tomorrow to lead? What about today? When does tomorrow begin?
Let there be no misunderstanding, as often as the youths are reminded that they are the leaders of tomorrow, they must also be reminded of the fact: that today is the tomorrow they were waiting for yesterday.
Calling the youths “leaders of tomorrow” has brought about the mindset that, they are incapable of making a change today, because it is not their time. It has also caused them to sit back and criticize the government etc. whom they see as the leaders of today and who should be held responsible for all the present societal malfunctions. It has made them look at the problems that we face in the community with the belief that someone else, not them, will fix it.
Being a leader, tomorrow, requires a vision today, and this vision, today, must be put to work for full actualization. William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon said:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune
Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries
On such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.” www.englishlanguageandhistory.com/?id=shakespeare-julius-caesar-tide-flood
The question still remains – if youths have not prepared themselves, sufficiently, today, how can anyone say that the future will be bright? Leaders must have a lead to follow. Concomitantly there also needs to be a paradigm shift around the concept of leadership.
Oftentimes when the discourse on leadership is introduced, it is easily defined using political optics. However, leadership is not always political and not essentially position based. It is simply about influence and productivity. It is an attitude of accountability and responsibility.
John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States, once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more and become more, you are a leader.” Every day brings opportunities for effective leadership and, as a consequence, the youth should prepare themselves, at all times, to fill this gap, in every sphere of life. Leadership is a garment that must be worn, on a daily basis, and not a coat that is pulled out from a closet and put on when needed. www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/csp/mediapool/sites/NBBJ/IndustryNews/story.csp?cid=4180440&sid=778&fid=181
The axiom, “youths are leaders of tomorrow”, further imposes a responsibility on fundamentally two parties — the youths, who are the leaders of tomorrow and the adults, who are the leaders of today. Having thus said, the leaders of today are then tasked with the responsibility to properly equip the youths for leadership tomorrow. In turn the youths must be intellectually, mentally and emotionally ready and willing for the huge responsibility that lies ahead.
In making for a great and healthy democracy and save the future of our establishments, we must allow the youths to participate, at all levels of policy and decision-making. As Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the English philosopher and statesman, aptly put it, “Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business. www.spaceandmotion.com/philosophy-sir-francis-bacon-biography.htm
The call is now, I strongly believe. Let’s get real youths, do not wait for tomorrow so that you can start leading and solving problems, then. As a young, Black person, whatever capacity you find yourself in today, begin seeking solutions to the challenges that you and other youths face. You have the power in you to bring about that change.
In your individual walks of life, endeavor to set an example and create a lasting positive impact. Chase after mastery and excellence as you do gold. To quote the words of Amadeo Giannini (1870 – 1949), founder of the Bank of America: “I leave everything to the young men. You’ve got to give youthful men authority and responsibility if you’re going to build up an organization. Otherwise you’ll always be the boss yourself and you won’t leave anything behind you. www.azquotes.com/quote/837312
It is verbally easy to say, “Youth are the leaders of tomorrow”, but the leaders of tomorrow must start today. For as the saying goes: The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Then again yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift.
To the youths: Carpe Diem.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.