What type of young people does Europe need?


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What type of young people does Europe need?

Europe needs young people who are interested in the surrounding world – in nature, culture and people. The world has many more remarkable things besides young people themselves.

There is only one unique Earth with thousands of endangered species living on it. We should preserve our little blue planet and the species of plants and animals facing extinction. Young people should look around at the wonders surrounding them which we all take for granted. Nevertheless, we often take notice of the surrounding diversity and wonders only when they are gone or almost impossible to save. In nature, everything affects everything else. Nature has not created useless animals, organisms or plants; instead all of them have a special function, even the tiny tick which I removed from your dog’s fur. This is something we should realise before a species is on the brink of extinction. All of these species form a functioning whole which we should promote by our actions instead of putting pressure on it.

In addition to taking care of our blue planet, we should also preserve different languages and cultures as well. These too are a part of our lives. There are over 20 official languages in Europe. Smaller language groups are forced to step aside as dominant languages become more and more prominent. If the younger generation is not taught or if it does not wish to learn old languages spoken by their parents and grandparents, languages will be forgotten and face extinction. The death of a language means much more than just the death of words and pronunciation: culture, history and the people’s identity are all forgotten.

Globalisation may sound wonderful, modern and even frightening and it is becoming more and more current. But every cloud has a silver lining: globalisation may increase assimilation, tolerance and understanding between different cultures. At the same time it takes the place of traditional foods, customs and languages as well as welding new features into traditional cultures. Our task is to maintain our traditions. French champagne might have met a sad end had the French not claimed the rights their drink rightly deserves.

Europe needs young people who are interested in folklore. Ireland’s numerous folk stories would no doubt no longer be alive had they not been passed from generation to generation. Proverbs and stories cannot be passed on if someone does not tell them to a keen listener willing to continue the tradition. We should learn to quiet down and listen, to memorise a story told to us by elder people. There is a reason for telling an old story: the teller wishes it to live on, to teach new generations. Peoples’ stories and beliefs are also an important part of their identity, culture and history.

Above all young people should learn to care about one another – about other people. Even though we think that adults can naturally take care of themselves that does not mean that they cannot be offered help, someone to talk to, friendship or just company. You can always ask how someone is doing. However, most people find it too easy to give you a positive answer even though in reality they might feel trapped and oppressed by their busy lives. We should learn to read one another and offer help which is something we are sometimes too afraid to ask.

There is talk of exhaustion, depression and those who are outside of society, who have lost their interest in life: it is precisely these people who need others to help them overcome the darkness. None of us makes it alone in the world. We all need friends, understanding, tolerance and other people. A smile or a friendly word can save the day which has been ruined from the start.

We need tolerance. Even though people claim that the world is more tolerant than before, intolerance has not been completely eradicated. Some people are still forced to abandon their homes or lead a double life because of their difference. Of course not everyone has to get along with everyone else, which would certainly be impossible. Nevertheless, we should keep an open mind. No two people are the same, we are all equally unique and different from one another regardless of eye colour or the language we speak, our salary, hobbies, family relations or location. Every one of us needs acceptance, a smile, sense of belonging and caring once in a while. Many people miss the company of others. When the obstacles in life become too great, it is important to have someone close to you. It is a support which keeps us on our feet even when we find life difficult. Some people need more help than others; some have weaker foundations than others. At times like these older and more experienced people need to support those who are weaker until they become strong enough to stand on their own two feet. Every one of us is at times lost or without a map and compass. At times like these we need older, more experienced people or those who are in the same situation to help us find our way. Sometimes life feels simple but at other times it feels like we are lost in an endless maze where no one will find us.

If we do not care about the place we live in, about cultures, languages and the people around us, we will soon have nothing left. Everyone is a part of the same mass which hosts certain dominant species, languages and types of people. We can always look back and learn from the mistakes of previous generations; the next generation will do the same. It will also look at our achievements, make use of them and learn from our mistakes. A world in which no one ever made mistakes would be tedious. Without mistakes no one would ever learn or do anything.

In the end, man is a young and small animal: weak, influential, hungry for power. We young people should use our status and power well, learn to notice those who are lost, help them and promote the preservation of all these wonders. Change starts with small things which every one of us can do. An action might not feel meaningful straight away but it can later gain importance even though you might not notice it yourself. The worn-out phrase ‘Children are our future’ is true: the power in Europe lies in our hands after our parents are gone. When the time comes we need to make wise decisions and act responsibly, make use of the proverbs we have heard and try to preserve and develop our world. We can change things. A single ant cannot work alone but when the whole colony acts together there springs to life a vital anthill. We need caring young people because they grow up into caring adults.

written by Tiia Riihiluoma


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