Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Students and movements

History has seen a lot of student movements all over the world. Most of them met with a bloody end. The worst being the Tiananmen Square massacre in China giving, perhaps, the best reason to throw communism out of the window. The protests in France in 1968 were perhaps the most influential which propelled protests in various countries which were ruthlessly suppressed.

Why have students been at the forefront of such movements is a question seldom asked. They are idealistic, study in an academic environment that teaches them to think for themselves, analyse and criticize the world around them, and they are passionate in their beliefs and naive enough to believe that they can change the world (and they do!). When faced with authority that tries to suppress their thoughts and control their actions, they rebel and their rebellion is much feared by their governments.

Are they right or wrong?

In their beliefs? Quite often, there are legitimate grievances behind those protests, which are not addressed by the powers that be for a variety of reasons. You cannot get a mass protest out of huge, disparate group of people (as evidenced by the French and the Chinese ones) without a reason or a collection of reasons.

In their actions? Well, that is a tricky one. Quite a few of the rebellions have been violent. Can we accept violence in any form? The violence is usually a manifestation of the frustration and sense of powerlessness and the impatience associated with youth. Violence always snuffs out a lot of lives, lives that would have contributed to the world and their countries if they had continued to live on. And that is the tragedy of it all. Violence is understandable and serves as a precursor to the socio-political change but it would have been better if it hadnt been a violent one. Of course, the repressive governments could very well get away with mass murder without getting punished like in the case of the Tiananmen square massacre.

Students with their passion and energy are the most valuable assets to a country much like oil or gold. Their energy could be used for good or bad, for constructive or destructive purposes, for social reasons or for vested reasons. And their minds are the most malleable and the leanings they inculcate usually stay with them for life. Which is why they are the most sought after by political parties. Which is why the role of the teacher is so powerful and important! Which is why they should, ideally, be left alone to explore the world on their own, with, maybe, a little guidance and mentorship.

Are they really powerless? Can they really be silenced so easily? NO.

we can still change the world without violent rebellions and bloody fights. With patience and determination, and with immense courage. Which is why I deplore messages that tend to legitimise the frustration and powerlessness that lead to violence and tragedy. Which is why I would ask my fellow youth to never lose sight of their goals and work towards it in their own ways and to work together to bring about changes in the world around them and in people they know.

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2 comments:

pegasus said...

let me put forward one more point.. there are student movements.... but rarely youth movement....
So it is the small section of educated youth .. who are usually aware enough to fight for their cause

Madhat said...

well, you could also argue that it is only a small part of the student community who took part in these movements.

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