A society is playing with fire when it neglects the needs and desires of its young people; not only are natural talents wasted, but a sense of desperation grows in the shadows. Young men in particular can feel driven to desperate acts if they do not feel welcome in society and valued for who they are in their essence. Most people have heard the old African proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Fewer know that the second part of the proverbial statement suggests that if young people are not fully invited into life they will burn the village down.
It takes a village to raise a child, but once childhood is over it takes a culture that blesses the dream trying to awaken in the soul of each young person. Children can be admonished and even controlled, but youth are on the edge of the great passions of the human soul that can burn towards destruction or else become a light that brightens and animates an entire culture. Young people are not simply awash with hormones, they are also imbued with dreams. The trouble with dreams is that they aim at higher goals like beauty and truth and they touch the deepest human senses like our sense of justice. A society is playing with fire if it denies the dreams of its youth in favor of a status quo that favors some and excludes others.
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