The challenges and responsibilities of youth in a country facing adversity

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November 6, 2013 by Gina Kawas

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The challenges and responsibilities of youth in a country facing adversity

Being a predominantly young country, Honduras’ population is comprised in its grand majority by people under the age of 30. Out of the more than eight million inhabitants, around 70% are in the range of 12 – 29 years of age. This is also the case in the Latin American region. So, given that young people are the bulk of the population, we must take control of our own lives and destiny and not let an almighty State impose our course of life nor dictate what we can say, where we can shop, what to watch, what to write, etc.

The only way to become the agents of change that the Latin and especially Central American region so desperately need, given the high insecurity rates, little economic growth, migration, drug trafficking, corruption, etc… lies not only on being young, but on being active, responsible and prepared. We must not only be citizens, we must be auditors, keeping in mind that we have a duty to bring forth positive change to our countries through hard work and continuous preparation.

As a Honduran, the message I would like to send to my fellow (especially young) citizens is that we have a mandatory responsibility on November 24th, 2013 to cast our vote; to get up in the morning and fulfill the individual task to go to a voting center and place the voting sheet into the ballot. If we choose to remain outsiders in this process, our apathy and disinterest will, beyond doubt, turn into submission. We all have a voice, and we must make it be heard, because if we don’t, another person’s voice might just define our future.

Unfortunately, at present, the Latin American region depicts high levels of youth detachment from politics and young Latin Americans show less willingness to vote. Young citizens complain on how left, right and all political parties are the same and regardless of whoever wins elections, the generalized sentiment is that things will remain equally bad. Well, this disinterest in politics makes us subject to not having a right to complain afterwards, because the farther we make ourselves be from politics, the easier it becomes for politicians to dominate us.

By criticizing and demeaning politics, we are not doing anything to construct real democracies in our countries nor are we contributing towards its development. This much desired development is only possible if we, as a prepared and responsible youth, make it possible by educating ourselves, by studying candidates’ proposals and platforms and not avoid voting. We must be empowered citizens that know what we want and what we believe in, and vote for the choice that is closest to that belief. 

We cannot be indifferent to topics of national importance, such as elections and politics in general, because a population that does not compromise with its government, does not compromise with its destiny. If democracy is by the people and for the people, then the people must rule, and this is not possible if an interest in politics is not present.

We must open up our own spaces, not just demand them; we can be those honest politicians we so often condemn are lacking; we can create the jobs we say are missing, by engaging in entrepreneurship; we must dare to undertake projects and innovate, forcing the State to recede in areas where it has unnecessarily intervened, so that we, as individuals have a more active role.

One cannot demand if one does not give, and each and every one of us has the capacity, the ideas and the energy to make positive changes for the society in which we live in, making sure that we choose to live in a government that has limited power and that guarantees a free society. It is up to us to make legality prevail by rescuing the Rule of Law, respecting the Constitution and acknowledging the individual responsibility we have to construct a society based on freedom, because it is a daily job to take care of it, like Thomas Jefferson once said: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. 

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