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TEDx Lecce Future

“Do you also think that the youth are indeed writing the future”? Do you also think that the future belongs to the youth”?

I notice that the majority of you believe that.  But the rest, really do not!

Personally I won’t hide the fact that I don’t believe it. I don’t believe this sentence that is often hammered into our heads like a truism, an absolute truth, or the obvious. 

Indeed, in its essence, the future is the result of the past and the present combined.

This is on the one hand. On the other hand we cannot forget that today’s youth will not be young in the future, or at least will not be as young as they are today.

From here, I’m on the verge of believing that the affirmation: “The future belongs to the youth” is just a lure, abait, a hoax, or a vast deception!

Let’s see!!!

Who really decides what our countries, our Mediterranean, or our world   will be like in 1O, 15, or even in 2O years? Are they really the youth?

What is the real weight of the youth in the economic, political, and management decision-making processes that will shape our cities, regions, countryside and environment in the decades to come ?

Who will obtain the levers of power in 5, 1O or 2O years?  Will young people seize them? Will at least a small part of the youth be involved in decision-making positions?

Personally I see no sign, no hint of evidence, and no clues to believe that the sentence: “The future belongs to the youth” is not misleading!

Some of you, including those older than you, would object: But youth is not a question of age! It is rather a matter of soul, mind and heart!

I can only recognize and bow down before this objection.

Actually, my friend the French author and human rights defender Stephane Hessel remained young, creative and full of vitality until the sad day that he left us. His creativity mainly targeted the youth.

He had been working to make us understand that our future is built,  “Here and Now”.
 He taught that we have to aim for the moon and to reach for the stars, to reconstitute the world and rebuild the human here at the point where we are standing, immediately and relying on our own strength and capacities. He urged us to get angry! It’s time for outrage he wrote!

But in your opinion, is Sephane Hessel the exception or the rule?

Look at those who are planning wars, those who are polluting the earth and the sky, those who just seek profit regardless of the harm that they can cause to the depths of our planet (through shale gas, horribly managed mines, over-exploitation of ground water etc.) as well as the damage they can cause to its surface (through deforestation, insecticide sprays and other  pollutants)

Look at all those who instead of bringing us closer to each other are everyday building new barriers and higher walls, as is the case for travelling from south to north, or for the racist separation wall between Palestinians and their occupiers.

Then, from another perspective, do you really believe that the youth who are involved in governing our world, managing its affairs, and drawing and redrawing its face to come really represent the youth?

For my part, I don’t think so. I am not just skeptical. I don’t believe it at all.

And to better explain why I don’t believe it at all, I will tell you rather concisely, about a part of what my country Tunisia has experienced in recent times and what it continues to witness now.

I suppose that all of you have heard about our revolution, which western media was quick to label “the Jasmine Revolution” and which proclaimed the announcement of “the Arab Spring”.

In case you did not know, my country did not experience more than two presidents for more than half a century. Both of those presidents have been forced to leave office; the first following a coup hatched by his successor, and the second under the conditions that you already know. In Januray 2O11, he cowardly fled the wrath of the youth; the youth who challenged his oppressive forces, his minions, and the omnipotence of his party-state.

Being one of those who lived almost entirely under the regime of the second, I can tell you that at the time, I had never known about a sit-in, a demonstration, or any other kind of protest actions except in books, movies or on TV channels, not to mention free debates, the exchange of opposite ideas, freedom of speech, or the ability to engage in another party aside from the one dedicated to serve the dictator and his clan.

Around me, in my family and in my parents’ circle of friends,  and despite being prone to protest and refusing to line up, I mainly heard nihilistic, negative, pessimistic commentaries on the situation.

It was said, as if it were an implacable decision of the fate that things were far from evolution or change; that our people have concluded a non- reviewable contract with resignation. We considered the acts of refusing to kneel down, not being involved in corruption and nepotism, and refusing to be among the vibrant advocates of the regime as acts of bravery and revolution!!!!

Of youth, it was said that their ambitions were mainly materialistic. That they were just seeking to lead a luxurious and good life at any price, and that they had lost all sense of responsibility, solidarity, devotion and dedication to others and to their country.

The movement that led to the ousting of the dictator Ben Ali on January 14th 2O11 and many of the events that have taken place from that day until now have proven the opposite.

Indeed, the youth, and many among our women and girls, mainly and defied and challenged the regime and its oppressive forces. They offered their bare chests to the bullets and truncheons of the repression forces. They inhaled the tear gas and slept on the public squares. Yes, our youth managed to rekindle the flame, and to make the impossible possible, and to threaten a regime that seemed untouchable and cowardly, a regime  to whom the majority of people and governments used to show loyalty and complacency.

It was mainly the youth who chanted: “employment, freedom and dignity”. It was mainly the youth who immediately refused the establishment of a new dictatorship as a replacement of the one that started to crumble.

It is our youth who mastered computer skills and new technologies of communication, and who managed to go through the threads of this wall of silence and leaden shroud that muzzled our countries for decades. But can’t you see that the very old, the old, the not-very young, and the less- young are the ones who came to master the situation, to once again take power and sit down with all their weight on our destiny?  

Once again, it has been shown that saying that “the  future belongs to the youth “is selling wind and sowing illusion.

Just one more example, and then I will release you. Too bad for you if you have a difficult time, you shouldn’t have invited me.

So, another example:

May be you didn’t know it, but travelling has became for us,the inhabitants of the southern shore of the Mediterranean a challenge and a dream that is often impossible to fulfill.

This was not the case when my mother was a student. When my mother was a student, she had the opportunity to travel easily especially in Europe. On the other hand, a young teacher and presenting no signs suggesting that I had the intention to settle down, I would have never been able to travel as much as I do if I weren’t the blogger you invite to give speeches and to take part in conferences.

Try to find out and you will realize how it is hard, painful and insulting to queue in order to beg for a few days paid visa. You would realize that once arrived to your destination you would face new obstacles.

Ask yourselves all these questions, then tell me if it is still possible for young people to communicate with each other, to organize, to dream together of a better world, to destroy all these walls that countries build around their territories.

Tell me if it is really possible to believe in a shining, glittering and luminous future for our youth?

I will finish by confessing to you that despite my harsh words, that are difficult to digest. I remain convinced that it is still possible to build a better world and a brighter future.
But this will only happen if the youth become aware that it is up to them to do so , by themselves, and Here and Now ;

It’s time for outrage! Lets’ get angry! And let’s start to build our future now!
Right now
 Each according to his abilities and powers!


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