The Islamic Garden
Window on the World
The world has changed. It is changing very fast. In recent times great developments have been made in technology until, in some places in the world, life has become easier than ever before. Many people and nations hold their heads up proudly as representatives of the new age; thinking, believing and hoping that these developments will make the world a better place. Then there are those who point out the moral decay and the spiritual vacuum that lies beneath the towering buildings, satellite phones, television and other signs of human progress. Young people are often stuck in the middle, wondering how to cope. They feel isolated and ill-equipped to live life in modern terms.
Education curriculums around the world are teaching young people basic literacy skills and some develop them to a high level in many fields of knowledge; however, the role that parents and family used to play in the education and development of their children has dwindled. In the past, it was the family that taught young people life skills in whatever context they lived. It may have been things like farming, cooking, finding food, or social etiquettes. Children grew up with a clearer picture of who they are and what was expected from them.
The increasing rate of homeless children, gangs, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancies, and broken families are all indications that things have become imbalanced, that communication has broken down and that young people are simply not getting what they need. Many parents might say that the above-mentioned phenomena have nothing to do with them and their families; however, indications of instability, depression and feelings of being ‘lost’ among young people are now common place. Young people from many places and backgrounds have something in common; namely, they feel isolated; from themselves (who they are), and from their parents.
Each generation sees the world from its own viewpoint. But now, with so many changes in the world continually taking place, as well as the increase of social isolation, materialism and the mundane 9 to 5 work routine, along with isolation from the beauty and wonder of nature, both parents and children are scrambling to survive. Our materialistic life style, heavy work loads, dead lines and sense of boredom has removed us from each other and threatens to kill communication.
Young people often see that their parents do not understand them or the world they are facing. They feel that their parents are either living in a distorted present, or in the past, pressuring them with expectations that belong to a world that did not have internet, satellites and so many opportunities. Expecting young people to fit into the mould of the past, is not only unrealistic, but unfair and causes the seeds of dissension and rebellion to grow.
When I asked a young religious teenager why she did not listen to her mother and refused to discuss her problems with her, despite her mother’s attempts to help her, the girl replied that she knew her mother cared, but her mother just did not understand the world. The girl said that her mother lived in some kind of dream world, where things were supposed to be pure and perfect. The girl admitted that she found this completely unrealistic and that she felt she had an important role to play in the world and wanted to do things in a way that differed from her parents. None of the things the girl suggested could be seen as immoral or impious, it was just a different ‘way’. She asked, hoped, begged that her mother would open just a small window on the world and see things as she does. That, she believed, would be the starting point of keeping their relationship healthy and successful.
The days of blind obedience are gone. Children are raised and taught by schools. Some might say that the role of the family has diminished because we, the parents, have allowed it to. But regardless, now young people are thinking for themselves, learning to trust their perceptions and they are acquiring skills to help them forge their own way in life. They do this among a flood of images, dictates from advertisers and those who would use them to their own ends. While material success is a possibility, the balance, calmness and inner peace that provides the foundation for true success is under threat. Never before, have young people needed their parents and families to step up and support them, love them, and accept them. If parents do not open even a small window on the real world, the children will carry on regardless, because human nature always finds way to survive. It is a matter of trust.