Dis­sect­ing the core of youth’s civic en­gage­ment

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY: SA­MUEL . MACAGBA III [email protected]

Ihave al­ways be­lieved that young peo­ple have in­nate and nat­u­ral ca­pac­ity to serve. They are not ap­a­thetic. It’s just that most of the times they are not given ap­pro­pri­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties, which dis­able them to en­gage in their com­mu­ni­ties. At the same time, be­cause they are young, adults should pre­pare them by en­abling and em­pow­er­ing their com­pe­ten­cies to serve. We should not as­sume that ev­ery­thing is com­mon sense. We need to clar­ify the mis­con­cep­tions that they have while pro­vid­ing them with the nec­es­sary tools to serve.

As I dis­cussed the idea of civic en­gage­ment to my stu­dents, I have dis­cov­ered that one fac­tor why young peo­ple seem to have a dif­fi­culty in the serv­ing in the com­mu­nity is be­cause we have failed to make a sta­ble ground­ing of their ide­al­ism.

Dream­ing big is good, but some­times be­cause we have en­cour­aged our youth to fight tremen­dously over­whelm­ing causes, we have most of­ten than not scared them and de­mo­ti­vated their de­sire to serve. Be­fore we ask our stu­dents to shoot for the stars, we should ground our youth to the re­al­i­ties of the world. I have no­ticed that we have been ask­ing them to fight for causes that do not mat­ter to them since we have in­flu­enced them to fight our causes and not theirs. As a re­sult, they have been push­ing them­selves to bat­tle our own wars while the is­sues and chal­lenges that mat­ter to them per­sist. As a con­se­quence, we have blinded their aware­ness to be sen­si­tive to the needs of their con­text.

In a sim­i­lar man­ner, we have dis­man­tled the de­sires of our youth to serve by push­ing them to cross over big seas, not re­al­iz­ing that there are problems that need to be ad­dressed close to their own shores. Be­cause of this, we also have poi­soned the sim­plic­ity of the idea of civic en­gage­ment and the hu­mil­ity of ser­vice. At the core of civic en­gage­ment is to be a good cit­i­zen. There is noth­ing grand nor ex­treme in its sense but an au­then­tic de­sire to con­trib­ute even in a minute sense.

I have asked my class, a room who I think are filled with lead­ers in our school, who among them are con­fi­dent about their level of civic en­gage­ment. Know­ing their con­texts, I was sur­prised that none of them raised their hands. This is ex­actly what I think hap­pens when we have pushed our youth into be­liev­ing that ser­vice needs to be loud or big. We have si­lenced the con­fi­dence of our youth to be good cit­i­zens.

We have em­pha­sized to them quan­tity or suc­cess in­di­ca­tors that are be­yond their reach, which most of­ten than not ex­hausts and tires them in the process. Es­sen­tially ser­vice should be more of depth than quan­tity of en­gage­ments.

When an ath­lete sup­ports his team­mates and mo­ti­vates them to do bet­ter for the school, how dif­fer­ent is he from some­one who pro­motes peace by go­ing to the ar­eas of war? No, they are not dif­fer­ent at all be­cause they are good cit­i­zens in their own way. This makes me be­lieve that there are no strict or sim­i­lar pat­tern or for­mula in serv­ing. Serv­ing

comes out nat­u­rally from do­ing things be­yond one­self con­sid­er­ing their own con­text. Again, this does not need to be grand, it just needs to be done with love. Thus, our lov­ing will al­ways be dif­fer­ent be­cause we ex­press it in var­i­ous ways.

So why do young peo­ple get tired of serv­ing? It is be­cause we

some­how have in­flu­enced them to think of ser­vice in the wrong way. At the same time, we have made them think that ser­vice is just about self-giv­ing. But you see how hard this can be. Giv­ing with­out be­ing able to love and ap­pre­ci­ate one­self can be fu­tile in serv­ing. Self-giv­ing re­quires be­ing able to share one­self fully. Thus, gen­eros­ity and ser­vice should start from within.

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