Georgian Youth Yesterday and Today

EVERYBODY knows that young people are the driving force of every nation, its hope, pride and glory, with them lies the future of every country. Young people under thirty are nearly a half of our countryís population. What are they like today? What do they like?  How do they entertain and observe long standing traditions which often come to my mind and which I will try to answer in this brief survey.

Itís common knowledge that the life of young people is inseparable from the life of their countryís history, traditions, social changes at a particular stage of its development, political and economic institutions have a great influence on young peopleís mode of life, their interests, political and religious views, aspirations, choice of careers.

I try to compare young people of today with the youth of the 60s-70s and ask my mother about her adolescent years. The train of her thoughts begins to move and brings back to her memory the mood of that time-rejection of the values of the past in favour of the values brought by the October revolution, the ideological superiority over other countries, the faith in Communists ideology and the Central Committee.

The young people of those days sincerely believed the they lived in that happiest country called the Soviet Union. They were members of the Pioneer organization and the Young Communist League, which was a necessary step for future career promotion. They were not encouraged to go to church and to be much interested in politics. Everything said by the Communist party was to be taken for granted. Most of the young people adored their great country, forgetting that their Motherland is a little country with a colourful and rich history, with a rich heritage of language, literature and art.

They were less informed of life in other non-socialist countries. I dare say, it was a time of atheism. Religon was deemed to be absurd and the young generation formed the smallest part of congregations Nevertheless Iím bound to say that most of young people of that time took a great interest in the history of their small Motherland and were proud of it. They continued to observe its long-standing traditions. Many looked at life in another way and didnít see things as rosecoloured. They never stopped struggling for independence for Georgia and its statehood exposing false statements of the Sommunist leaders. But dissidents were sent to prisons or mental institutions. Amazing  as it may seem, young people were also  happy in those days and life used to be fun for that generation. I should say, that they had a somewhat more comfortable life because they didnít experience shortages of electricity, water and fuel. They used to have  more pocket money to spend and free time to spend it in.

Young people of those  days watched less TV. They enjoyed going to movies and mostly loved Georgian films. They were great theatre lovers. In my motherís youth they all were crazy bout Beatles and Rolling Stones. All in all, our parents were sons and daughters of the tme they lived in, as we are the children of the time we live in.

But from our point of view they seem somewhat happier we are now, life was easier for them.  Time is rushing by. About twenty years have passed since then. Many changes have taken place in Georgia within these years. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia regained its independence and statehood. Overcoming crisis, an enormous refugee problem our country is taking its first steps creating new political and economic structures. Holding high democratic values young people take an active part in this  process  sharing with the older generational hardships of the transition period.

Young people of today are more adaptable to a new life, they feel more deeply the spirit of time and know better what to do. So most young people are interested in politics. They join numerous political parties and have different views on the future of Georgia. Some young people are lucky enough to visit Europe and United States to study there and enlarge their knowledge of other cultures. But unfortunately only fraction of Georgian youth can afford this nowadays. Anyway, we do hope that in the near future more and more clever young men and women will be able to realize their dreams.

Most of the young people say that money is not the most important factor in their choice of career, but still they want to lead a normal dignified life. It is not a secret that the students of the 90s are poor. They are financially dependent on their parents. They are always pressed for money with convention for students to have part-time jobs. Lots of young people are unemployed. They neither study nor work and have to hang about in streets.

To some elderly people teenagers may seem somewhat spoiled compared to those of their generation. Increased stress at home and in jobs make some youngsters escape reality by turning to alcohol and dugs and we often hear about murders or crimes committed by young people under twenty. Crime and drug abuse among youngsters seem to be on the increase and thy are to some extent justly blamed on social problems. Solving these problems is a question of vital importance today.

Family links are still very tight in our country. In accordance with long standing traditions there are usually people of three generation in a Georgian family: grandparents, parents and children. As we are dependent on our mothers and fathers and leave the family unit very rarely, usually only after getting married, traditional disagreements may be caused by questions like: the time you come home, the people with whom you spend your leisure time, household duties, selection of marriage partners. But it is generally acknowledged that the majority of the young people agree with the opinions and vales of their parents and follow their advice. We respect them amd have friendly relations with them.

And how do we entertain ourselves? We spend a lot of time watching TV. We do not often go to the movies which are less often by young people as for instance they used to be by their parents twenty years ago.

We also listen to music, rock-and-roll, soul , blues and heavy metal music are very popular with teenagers in Georgia nowadays. Young Georgians never forget Christian faith. Today we have turned to religion. We are active in church and we are happy that we are not young people are true believers and hope itís not just a fashion trend.

To crown it all, Iíd like to mention that though the 90s seem to be a more selfish and inward looking era than, letís say 70s, I wouldnít say that money and materialism have become the only gods of our youth and that their souls are now more keen on the present and future of the nation, more politically-minded, more critical about themselves and have more faith in themselves.

I usually look at young people around me-my fellow students, neighbours, just strangers in the streets. They look beautiful and smart, they are broad-minded, vigorous, intelligent, well-educated. They are also confident in themselves. They like a good joke and a good Georgian song. The future of our country greatly depends on them. And I know that they and I will do our utmost to make it happy. Things look good for us and our country.