It has been a while since I wrote to you my readers and just like you, I have been bombarded with nothing but negativity in the media. And just as in Asterix, there are times I almost feel the sky is literally falling on our heads! The overwhelming sense of doom and gloom that permeates our homes each time we turn on the idiot box and I wonder at the environment in which our children are growing up.
So, I have decided to write on a slightly more different topic and we are focusing this week on the world we live in, and the impact on our children.
Tragically, there were many children who took their lives in the last few months. Our friend's children, a child of a friend of a friend, news in the papers of poor parents in far-off villages coming to terms with their loss.
The point is what is causing young children, youth, teenagers, young adults to take their own lives? Do they feel so alone that they feel that have no one? Not a friend? Not a parent? A grandmother? A teacher? Surely no one is that alone in a country where we are family-centric? Or are we actually family-centric?
I have been pondering about our childhood, our lives, the adversities that we have faced and overcome and have come to a conclusion dear reader. A conclusion, a theory that I would like to put across to you to think it over and maybe some of it might resonate in your mind.
I am fortunate to have the most amazing parents who did not spoil me with worldly goods but instead chose to nurture my imagination, feed my curiosity and taught me how to pick myself up when I fall. I was an absolute tomboy despite being a girl and got into more scrapes than you can imagine and was not spared the rod or the ensuing punishments. I roamed the great outdoors and holidays were always an adventure and chores were very much part of our daily schedule.
But there was love, and understanding and patience, my parents were always there for me and taught me manners, ethics, values and above else discipline and selflessness. And incredibly through the long hours of school, homework and study we still had joyous fun and understood fair play and team spirit in sports and team activities and the friendships we formed are now cemented for life.
What has changed? Why are our children driven to be isolated individuals when they grow up? Having worked in large corporates for the last 25 years I am now faced with the reality of the millennial syndrome. I see it in the workplace every day.
Some of the thoughts that crossed my mind are that children in the current context don't have time to be children.
There are such high expectations from them, they spend most of the day shuttling from one class to another or to some sports practice or tuition and then end up with homework and are utterly exhausted by the end of the day. An average performance is not enough for many parents and children feel a sense of failure if they don't achieve these lofty expectations.
Then there are the children of parents who will give them all the material benefits but do not give them the most precious gift of all, their love and their time. These kids spend their days in front of some tech gadget, on different apps, chatting to friends exchanging pictures, playing video games for hours on end and have zero social skills or ambitions to being a developed individual. You will be surprised at the number of children who are exposed to the dark web on the internet and are embroiled in so many unsavoury activities. Why not? After all, no adult is supervising what they do and thus they go unchecked.
Some have moved on from these worlds and are dabbling in the world or drugs and narcotics. It is no secret that children now have access to drugs, unlike any other generation. Dear reader, we are not just talking about the children in Colombo, the drug menace has permeated the lives of children in the rural villages too. I know of a child who ended his life three weeks ago in a rural village in the hill country and he was only 13 years old!
Then you have the children who have been cosseted and pampered and have been told they are perfect in every way. They can do no wrong and step into the real world with the false belief that they are perfect and have a sense of entitlement about them. Now, these your adults are struggling to survive in the corporate world. They cannot accept criticism, fall apart at the first sign of an obstacle and the only solution they know of is to quit!
In most case millennials do not stay on in a job role for more than two years in a job, they are off seeking greener and easier pastures. They are the generation of quick fixes and quick exits, a life built on shortcuts and entitlement.
Let us not forget the children who are now constantly exposed to all sorts of negative media, newsfeeds, fakes news and generally doom and gloom on social media. Internet trolls who have no sense of decency and humanity, who viciously bully and take apart a human being on an open stage for all the world to witness. The message is, it is the norm to critic anyone and cyberbullying is very much a daily occurrence. They are now exposed to wars, violence, racism and intolerance of each other.
These are the worlds our children inhabit today, albeit in varying degrees. Tell me, dear reader, how many children do you see who aren't glued to either a phone, TV, iPad or some form of a digital screen?
Is it any wonder that they cannot cope with reality? Is it any wonder that they cannot perform and deliver in their careers? Is it any wonder that the millennial is self- obsessed and precepts such as values, principles, ethics, caring for one another are not too important to them?
Perhaps you feel I am being too harsh. But that is not my intention dear reader. I know that all of you try hard to be good parents and wish the best for your children. You want them to grow up into upstanding kind citizens and good human beings. The tragedy though is that the world they now inhabit is more insular and secular. The digital world has taken over the real world and it is the gospel according to Google. In other words, if it is on the internet then it is true!
I don't envy you, dear reader, bringing up children is now far harder than ever before, and I am sure it is a daily juggling act. Through it all, please keep an eye out for someone's child who may not fit in, who may be going through inner struggles and emotional turmoil. A child who feels he does not belong, a child who thinks his life is not worthy and inclined to feel he is alone.
Children are a precious gift to this world, the future and our hope. If they choose to snuff out their lives, we have all failed. We have failed as parents, as friends and as adults. We must endeavour to be that much more informed of the world our children inhabit. The apps they use, the dark web, peer pressure and bullying and their fragile emotional state. We must endeavour to keep the doors of communication open and encourage them to talk to us about their deepest fears. They must never be made to feel that they are alone no matter their transgressions.
Our children are our legacy. Our footprint in this world, so make it count my dear reader.
Finally, I leave you with this thought from the great Nelson Mandela
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children"