Things are intense in this world today. From road rage, irritating moments in the shop lines, heated arguments and politics at work, uprisings and accusations at university, cuber bullying at an all-time high and anxiety weighing more than ever on our younger generations. Multiple wars are being fought, politics has become marred by ego and corruption, the rich are getting richer and more devious, cyber privacy is being breached daily – it’s become a tense mess.
But instead of addressing the causes, or even the solutions to these problems, I think we have to acknowledge the roots of these issues.
1. Knowledge is not always power but is definitely always powerful
Without a doubt, we are living in the most ‘all-knowing’ time on earth. And it’s not just that knowledge is available, but it’s the SPEED at which knowledge can be made available. For example – in the last 20 minutes while I’ve been writing this piece I have been Whatsapp’d fifteen times, emailed three times, had two spam calls and one genuine one. I checked Instagram once and had two appointment notifications. Just writing it down makes me feel overwhelmed. But our phones have lulled us into a false sense of normality, where we think we are able to emotionally process this diverse, erratic and demanding kind of activity. We can’t! We need boundaries. Otherwise, it will result in anxiety, random outbursts, sleepless nights and moody interactions.
Beyond that, I also would ask the question: is knowing everything helpful? Do I need to know what’s going on in the traumatic lives of a Kardashian? Do I need to know how many seals were killed last year? Do I need to know what my friend ate for breakfast? Do I need to know where that acquaintance from six years ago went on holiday?
Awareness is awesome. If you actually have action to apply to it. In Christianity, we believe that faith without works is dead. In the same way, I believe that knowledge without action is actually destructive to ourselves.
What is the balance ratio between what you know and what you act upon? I believe that the scales are too weighty on the knowledge side and have caused many implosive moments in my own life when I haven’t held that in check.
2. Self-awareness is at an all-time high
I believe self-awareness is a good thing. In this new diverse global existence, we have become more aware of our differences than ever before, which has forced us to analyze our own lives with a critical eye (some deny this, but will be confronted with many problems in the future). But self-awareness can go too far – and become self-interest. Allow self-interest to fester and it will become selfishness. Add something traumatic to that mix and you have full-blown victimhood.
Now – I am not denying that there is horrific injustice in this world. But as someone who has lived in shacks with no running water for two weeks – I have found the people living in those circumstances way more joyful and grounded than those living in the suburbs with wifi and health insurance. It’s a perspective that has been hard to reconcile, but I have realized that you can go through hell and not be a victim. And you can also read about someone else going through hell and become a victim. How? Based on how much self-interest you have.
I would encourage you with this – if you’re affected emotionally by something, then you need to decide to physically do something about it. Not an Insta post, not a conversation with a friend. Get involved with the solution of an issue. Once again – awareness is only important if true action can be tied to it. Take personal responsibility for change. Don’t wait for someone else to do what you want. Many want to take down systems but cannot bother to influence the people they’re living with in that regard. Start at home and work your way outward.
3. Entitlement is a serious problem
For some reason, we believe that we deserve better. Unlike the generations that lived through WW1 and 2, or through famines or civil wars or evil regimes. Yes – the demographics of race and gender have had unfair standards of privilege, but don’t forget that living in this time itself is a privilege as well – and one that we should not take for granted. We are the most informed generation ever. The most connected generation ever. We have the greatest chance at justice than ever. We have a louder voice than ever before. But those are responsibilities, not ‘rights’.
I believe it is very good to know how things ‘should be’. It is very good to know what you want out of life. It is very important to believe that anything is possible. BUT you also need to realise as much as we have been gifted things from the past generations, we need to earn our seat at the table of history. I have found many times that anger and indignation have come not from the injustices we have had to face, but from the mere fact that they exist. Unless we make peace with the fact that the world is broken, we won’t get over the anger of the mess and have the energy to fix anything.
There is much required of this coming generation – especially in Africa. We did not only inherit the good based on the sacrifices of those who went before. We also have to face the brokenness inherited from the evils of those who went before as well. Is it fair to pick up someone else’s mess? No. Is it necessary in order for us to move forward? Definitely!
As a young African with a unique and specific past, I have hope for our continent. I believe there is courage in this generation to look beyond the surface-level anger and tensions; and make decisions that history will thank us for. But it starts with us dealing with the uncomfortable things within us. Once we have confronted ourselves, we can take hold of our destiny. The key way I believe you can begin to walk in victory is by inviting Jesus into your life – a relationship with God is one of the most empowering things you could ever do for yourself. It enables you not only to heal from your past but become free enough in your inner life to tackle the problems of the world around. I pray you find that kind of freedom within!