The Jewish Report Editorial

Our future is safe with our youth

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As we head towards 16 June on Tuesday, I find it uncanny that protests against racism and police brutality are taking place internationally. They are protesting the self-same issues that South Africans fought about 44 years ago. Don’t for a moment think this is lost on our youth. To the contrary, they are wiser and much more determined to stop what they believe is wrong than we ever were.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jun 11, 2020

They are a generation with a strong moral backbone who won’t just accept what they believe is bad. They will fight for what’s right no matter what race, gender, or religion they are. I find this generation totally inspirational, and am grateful to have their voices in this newspaper.

To commemorate Youth Day, I requested that Jewish school educators ask their pupils to write short pieces about what Youth Day means to them in 2020. I gave them a weekend to do it, and had no idea I would get such an amazing response. I received way too many well-written, insightful, and intelligent pieces from our high-school youth to publish all of them.

I wish I could have put every one of them in this newspaper because each person had something valuable to add. I really learnt something, and I’m now even more convinced that these fearless and determined young people will one day turn this country and this world into a far better place than it is right now.

They all knew exactly what went down on 16 June 1976, and have strong opinions about it. They supported the ’76 youth, and clearly see the connection between what was happening then in South Africa and what’s happening now in the United States. Most of them also mentioned the uncapped police brutality occurring in our own country, where we should know better.

Our young writers came across as activists who would do what needs to be done to improve our world.

A few years back, I did some research into this generation of youth, commonly known as Gen Z (or Generation Zee), who are 18 and younger. Their consciousness has been shaped not just by their parents, teachers, and peers, but also by the touch-screen internet world. Their online life and real life is hard to distinguish from one another. They don’t wait for us to give them information, they find whatever it is they want to know on the internet whenever they want it. Nothing is unattainable. And because of this, concern about the environment, racism, and terrorism around the world is in their face, as is any devastation we may want to hide from them.

They have well-researched opinions, and many of them are perturbed by what’s going on, so much so that some experts even call them “Generation Worry”.

So, don’t for a minute think that because we as their parents think they should believe the same thing we do, they will do so. They won’t. They will think and believe what they believe is right.

They will tell you what needs to be done about crime, housing, children and women abuse. They will also tell you why we need to stop buying plastic bags and packaging that isn’t biodegradable. They are the game-changing generation.

I’m confident that this generation will change things for the better. It won’t allow racism and a whole lot of other “isms” because they don’t fit into its belief system.

Read our centrespread (pages 8 and 9) to see what I mean.

So, as Youth Day dawns, consider our crises. Our youth may well be locked up in their homes most of the time, but their minds are certainly not in lockdown. They have plans for commemorating 16 June 1976, and while they won’t be out on the streets making a noise, they are determined to be heard.

I hear and respect them, and look forward to having more and more of their voices in this newspaper. I want to know what they are saying and thinking, and I think you do too.

They are our future, and the future looks good!

On a distressing note, I want to address the stigma attached to people with COVID-19. This is of concern because if people hide the fact that they or their families have the virus, we lose out on valuable information that could prevent others from contracting the virus.

A dangerous situation has emerged because some have bullied or shunned those who contracted the virus because they didn’t behave as they were expected to.

The truth is there is no right or wrong. If you get the virus – and many, many of us will – you have done nothing wrong. You are not a criminal or a bad person. Every one of us at some point will make innocent mistakes. We all misjudge things sometimes. That never makes it alright to be lambasted or badmouthed.

When someone gets this virus, the important thing is to survive it and contain it. The last thing we should worry about is how other people feel about us. Others should rather be concerned and caring, that way more people will share their COVID-19 status. (See page 3.)

If we fear that others know we have the virus, we will avoid testing and informing, thereby eliminating vital information from the public. Knowledge is key, so let’s make sure we avoid shunning people, and rather make them feel comfortable to be open and honest about COVID-19.

Shabbat Shalom, stay healthy and enjoy Youth Day!

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