Sunday, September 1, 2013

What are the Dreams and Hopes of the Young?

The Olympics for the "Deaf and Dumb," recently held in Sophia, Bulgaria, received little coverage from the mass media, which, as we know, does not cover news they consider of little interest to most of the public. And learning the names of the winners, even with a great deal of Internet browsing, is not easily done. 

Writing in the Catholic Times, a columnist on the opinion page tells us that Korea came in third with 19 gold medals, 11 silver and 12 bronze. This lack of interest in these Olympics games is in marked contrast, he points out, with the interest in entrance exams in Korea. The columnist mentions one Korean who placed first in three of the shooting competitions, and explains what he used to help him concentrate, blocking everything else from sight except the target.

Korean third-year high-school students have been told that July 30th signaled the beginning of the 100 days before college entrance exams. Students, like the shooter in the Olympics, have their eyes on their target, the exams, and blinders for everything else. Both students and parents have that as their number-one goal, the reason the students have worked hard on their studies for twelve years.

What are the dreams and hopes of our students? the columnist asks. What is the reason for studying so hard, for doing well in school? They answer they give without hesitation, he says, is to get into college. Their happiness or misery, they believe, will depend on the college and curriculum they select.  What the students want and would like to do in the future is of little interest.

The students' aptitude and specific intentions are on the back burner, the only interest right now is to get high marks in the entrance exams. What students would like to do later in life is outside the scope of their interest. They have put blinders on, he says. The target is doing well in the exams, so they can get good jobs and big salaries.

The columnist compares the blinders the students have been given by society to the blinders the shooter used to win his gold medals in the Olympics. In order to achieve his dream and goal, he freely used blinders. In both cases, blinders are being used but there is a world of difference, the columnist says, in the motivation for the blinders.

Our young people must respect their freedom of will, the columnist insists. They are immature and don't understand all that is happening in society, but they know very well what their dreams and hopes are. The older generation, with their blinders, does not see the real dreams and hopes of the young, he says, but believes that entrance into college and a big salary is what life is all about. The blinders that society is imposing on the aspirations of our young is infringing on their capacity to freely choose for themselves what goals they will have in life, says the columnist. This freedom is sadly lacking in our society today, and he quotes, in support of this view, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1738.

"Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect." This respect is what is missing, he believes, when society unduly influences the life choices of our young people by encouraging an unnatural concentration on doing well in the entrance exams, and neglecting all other aspects of life.  

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