The youthful stage of life is one that is very sensitive and consequential. Many volumes have been written and countless words have been uttered in defence of this. Noticeably, two factors enforce this reality, time and strength.
Time is that currency with which life is measured and once lost cannot be recovered. Hence, the saying, time is life. It is also the privilege within which we labour (sow) and profit (reap). However, apart from those who are precocious, many of us do not get to have a proper appreciation of time, as to know how to use it, until we enter the late teens or so (youthful life). Upon realization of how fast time runs, the youth contemplates how best to use it for ultimate benefit.
Meanwhile, on every creature, nature has put a necessary evil called ageing. A big disadvantage of ageing is gradual loss of vitality (strength). It is like a dome-shaped graph. Physical, physiological, immunological, and mental strength rises from childhood, peaks at youth and wanes thereafter. Apparently, it does not take long for the youth to discover that like time, strength is also fleeting.
Because of these, the average person wants to utilize his youth (time) when he is most energetic (having strength) to sow; and if (or where) possible, amass immediate harvest. What becomes of utmost concern therefore is what approach the youth should take in maximizing his prime.
Generally, youths have been divided along two lanes: money and knowledge. Money here refers to financial power, wealth and material acquisition. On the other hand, knowledge here refers to training, education, skill, literacy, ideas and capacity and talent development that is licit (not criminal or uncivil) in any way. Some believe that money rules the world; hence, they run hard after it. Others believe ideas (knowledge) rule the world and they pursue it.
The interesting thing is that both lanes are greatly interwoven. Money indeed answers to many needs, but so does knowledge. Money surely gives power, likewise sensible application of knowledge. Furthermore, it is true that money gives motion and voice to knowledge and many times, knowledge may not be acquired without money. Think about the huge grants for research and the outrageous funds needed for top-notch, specialized education. Nevertheless, it is equally true that knowledge may be acquired and driven without money. Just think about self-tutoring, volunteering, internship, mentorship and apprenticeship. Think about great inventors who started out penniless. In addition, we all know that money oftentimes is a product of knowledge. You get paid for what you know. Similarly, knowledge can be a product of money. You get knowledge because you can pay for it.
Another funny twist is that many seek money by first seeking knowledge but rarely do people seek knowledge by first seeking money. Notice also that all the pleasure, comfort, happiness, power, fame and fulfilment we seek by making money are actually end products of knowledge. The houses, access to health care, technology and innovations like gadgets and so on that demarcate the rich from the poor have come to be because of knowledge. Essentially, we seek money (by first seeking knowledge) to live a better life and living a better life refers to the utilization of the results of peoples knowledge.
Curiously, one distinction of note is that, in pursuing money, desperation can set in and uncivil, unconscionable, fraudulent and nefarious means may be employed. However, no amount of desperation can push a man seeking knowledge to do such. If he does, it means ab initio he was seeking something else, not knowledge. We can thus deduce that if everyone strives for money (with only a minute fraction seeking the money that can be gotten via knowledge), we may later have ourselves to blame. People will not grind out the best from their potentials and we may lose values, lives, and the society to evil schemes and intentions. Conversely, if people truly seek knowledge, we have nothing to be afraid of.
The reality is this, it is possible to pursue money, without any reference to knowledge (as defined above) but it is almost impossible to pursue knowledge without financial gains following. Therefore, our world will be better off if youths seek money by first seeking legitimate knowledge and using money so accrued to further pursue and promote knowledge.
Ogaga Eruteya is passionate about serving God and humanity. He believes people ought to be the best God wants them to be. He writes from Oyo, Nigeria.