Formation of Youth
Dr. Anand Amaladass
Formation makes a great difference in the shape of any mature society. There are however extreme views. I received a view-card with the text: “Do not try to make others like you; God had made enough of your types.” This seems to be a warning to the parents and teachers who decide what the youth should be. On the other hand, it is claimed by the Eastern spiritual Masters: “Do not question the wisdom of two thousand years.” One has to discern a middle course between extreme positions.
The folk wisdom strikes a balanced note. One Sanskrit verse says: “Only one fourth of the knowledge comes from the teacher; one fourth comes from one’s own intelligence; the third fourth comes from one’s fellow-students and the fourth quarter comes in course of time.” Only the time will teach us the wisdom, if we are open to it.
First of all, one has to clarify what is here meant by formation. There are several variants to this question. Formation is a complex object: an ideal, a process, a sum of knowledge and abilities and a spiritual/intellectual state. These could be further described with various adjectives — ‘cultured’, ‘educated’ and its opposite would be ‘uneducated’ and ‘uncultivated.’ Seen from the social reality, formation is also a ‘social game’ whose goal is simply to appear cultured and not untutored. In the Club of training one is admitted, when s/he has already mastered the game; but one can master it only in the Club. Why is it so? Because the game of formation is a game of supposition. In the social milieu every one assumes that the other is cultivated.
Formation is familiarity with the history of our civilization- the great outlines of philosophy and science as well as the language forms and the major works of art, music and literature. Formation could also be seen as orientation to the ideal of general formation of personalities in contrast to the practical professional training of specialists.
The knowledge of formation does not consist, in the first place, of mere information. It is much more, as in a chess player, a mix of rules of the game, information and an overview of the range of the playfield and the quantity and the worth of the figures at hand. From this the one in formation can then gain remembrance of his loss and in spite of the inadequate knowledge can hold on to the ability to be a partner in the game.
Since the language adapts itself in style and vocabulary to the various milieus and social spheres, the mastery of language is decisive for the possibility to move freely in the society: whosoever does not know what he should say, feels himself socially restricted; for such a person certain social spheres of the society are ‘no-go-areas’.
In the language we are all ‘communists’; the language is the property of the people. Therefore each one can make that wealth his/her own and strike a friendship with it. Then s/he can move freely, his/her world is greater and s/he crosses more borders between milieus, between experiences. Communication is the form, in which spirit, flesh and culture become a person and reflects itself in the mirror of others.
Formation includes a society of belief. The confession of faith runs as follows: belief in God, belief in the power of culture and art, in the society of cultivated people, the timeless values of humanism etc. What faith is in religion, taste comes in art. They have their own canonical texts.
No culture/formation could be complete without art and religion. Art needs religion for the sake of order and religion needs art for actualizing the Divine presence through festivals, celebrations, images and architectural designs etc. Without art religion becomes a sort of ethereal spiritualism, a type of heavenly metaphysics and on the other hand, without religion art becomes direction-less subjectivism, bordering on narcissism.