By Volunteer Jay Laddha, FHI Ahmedabad
In Greek mythology, it is said the earth was a wonderful place to live. As the story goes, among others, there were two gods, Prometheus and Zeus. However, Zeus was unhappy with Prometheus as he had stolen the secret of fire for the good of mankind. To take revenge, Zeus planned a sneaky punishment in mind. Through his powers, he brought a beautiful woman to life and named her Pandora. Prometheus’ brother fell in love with her at the first sight and married her. Zeus then gave the newlyweds a gift, a mysterious box. It came with a note. It said: “DO NOT OPEN.” You can guess what happened next. It was Pandora whose curiosity got the better of her. One day, she raised the lid a little bit and all of the world’s troubles and miseries flew out of it. Since then, the world has struggled to cope with the grievances of mankind. Even today, as I write this piece, we are in the grip of a humanitarian crisis. There is a shortage of requisite resources and people pleading online for help. At the outset, one of the many reasons we are in this is because of our lack of talent for systems. Many of our problems arise from this. We are lousy in planning and addicted to the happiness of informality. We are good at maintaining social norms, but in everything else, our instinct is to wing it. Nonetheless, going further, we must learn from our mistakes and encourage the upcoming generation to be proactive. In this respect, my fellow FHI volunteer, Raunak Bhandari, brilliantly describes the necessity of building systems and foresight in this article (https://tinyurl.com/4vb4k6c8). Silver lining Fortunately, what’s better now is we have a better understanding of the problems in the world. Also, the young are better educated today. They understand global issues of climate change, human rights, gender equality, etc. There is less hypocrisy and more self-confidence. Our history may be of ambiguous wars and harsh slavery, but today, we have our fingers on the pulse of gradual transformation. This is evident from the high spirits of the upcoming generation. They ooze attitude, ambition, and aspiration. They are cool, confident, and creative. They seek challenges, love risks, and shun fear. They don’t just have a pent-up demand for good jobs; they want a good life. My younger brother makes YouTube videos to decode new technology and gadgets for people. My neighbor’s kid, just in his high school, goes to a CA’s office to understand the intricacies of accounts and business. Desiring to play cricket at a nearby ground, children in our society made a cement pitch on their own by accumulating funds over a while. When we meet these young kids, their energy is contagious. It is humbling to see their aspirations. There is a spark in their eyes and an innate desire to achieve more. They exhibit a “can-do” attitude. They want to “get things done,” to “produce results”. What we can merely do is provide the right direction and fuel their curiosity. In the future, the world is going to be increasingly driven by these individuals who understand stuff, adapt themselves quickly to its processes and technologies, and start to march forward with confidence. The global atmosphere from here forward will be shaped less by the ponderous deliberations of ministers and more by the spontaneous explosion of energy from these young minds. Quickly, before she could slam the lid shut, one tiny bug flew out. He gave Pandora a big buggy smile in thanks for his freedom and flew away. That tiny bug was named ‘Hope’. And ‘Hope’ made all the difference in the world. Perhaps, Gen Z is our hope today!