Between islands and archipelagos

Publish date 31-01-2023

by Gabriella Delpero

And here we are at the beginning of what is increasingly being heralded as one of the most difficult autumns (with relative winter following) in recent decades. Growing economic difficulties for families, rising youth unemployment rate, energy crisis, emergency health, war. The causes are there for all to see, it is useless to deny it. It is also useless to delude ourselves that these are only the gloomy predictions of the usual pessimists. The situation is serious, the climate tense, people worried.

And what do young people, our children or grandchildren perceive of this situation and with what resources do they face (and will they face) all this? Are they sufficiently equipped to resist, develop their potential to the fullest, finding opportunities for personal growth even in the most critical moments? The data emerging from the Youth Report 2022 compiled by the Observatory of the Catholic University of Milan, for example, show us a rather negative picture of the new generations: compared to previous years, the percentage of those claims to have a positive self-image (dropped from 53.3% in 2020 to 45.9% in 2022) and that of those who claim to have motivation and enthusiasm in their actions (from 64.5% to 57.4% ). Those who think they know how to pursue a specific goal are also decreasing. Not to mention the enormous number, over 3 million, of young Italians who do not study, do not work, are not in training.

In short, in the last two years the impact that the pandemic and all its social consequences have had on our children has made them more fragile, less motivated, less equipped to face difficulties and efforts. They tend to withdraw, to withdraw because they are afraid of the future and avoid thinking of it as a project in which to invest their energy and potential. Worrying signs are also coming from the world of high school: many teachers find it difficult to help students come to terms with what they lack at the start, i.e. perseverance in studying, the propensity for commitment, determination.

Of course, it's not just the very young who have come out of the pandemic differently. Even among many adults, another way of looking at life, at work, at family ties seems to have spread. In fact, we are starting to talk about a new existential attitude, the one defined by the acronym YOLO (you only live once, which corresponds to our "you only live once"). Where, however, the awareness of being able to "live only once" does not translate into an incentive not to waste that one opportunity superficially, but into a drive to see the sole purpose of life itself in the pursuit of personal well-being. As if the trauma of the sudden discovery of evident human fragility and one's own personal vulnerability and mortality related to the pandemic had made all sense of responsibility towards others and the very idea of being part of a community disappear.

In the face of all this, however, it would be urgent to involve young people and adults in projects and initiatives in the social, work, voluntary and school fields, in the sports, tourism and recreational fields, which stimulate direct and active participation of everyone, to help everyone rediscover the taste and passion for doing something together with others and for others.

«No man is an island, complete in himself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the whole» said the English poet John Donne (1572-1631) centuries ago.

Gabriella Delpero
NP November 2022

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