By NATASHA IMAN
WHEN I was 13, I remember standing in the middle of Covent Garden in London watching buskers shooting flames from their mouths and riding on tricycles while juggling at the same time.
It is hard to believe that a city I had once perceived as the ultimate modern metropolis had been struck by what the British media coined “an epidemic of violence”.
Stories of riots and looting filled the pages of newspapers and online news sites, putting youth at the front and centre of media coverage yet again.
I read in disbelief headlines like “London youth wild as riot reaches boiling point” and “London riots caused by ‘futureless youth’ in the UK?”.
The riots had once again highlighted negative images of young people.
Naturally, being a youth myself, I couldn’t help but feel exasperated at the generalisation and stereotyping of today’s young people, based on that one incident.
Do all youth around the globe really possess this antisocial and criminal-like behaviour?
While some youth have an “all-for-one and one-for-all” mentality, most of us are more than capable of dissociating ourselves from what we believe is wrong.
If there is one thing we dislike, it would be the categorisations thrust upon us.
To say the least, youth are not reckless, inhumane and impulsive creatures.
Following the responses to the riots on Facebook and Twitter, I have witnessed the disgust and astonishment of my peers as they come to terms with the notion that their peers are capable of that level of violence and anger.
Most of them were completely opposed to the youth rebellion and did not feel as though the actions of the rioters, whether it involved looting a candy bar or setting a car on fire, was justifiable in any way.
I feel the same.
Nothing gave someone the right to destroy someone’s livelihood because of their personal frustration and anger.
What did looting candy bars and shoes get them anyway? Unnecessary attention? A chance to be in the spotlight?
I still feel as though today’s youth and tomorrow’s future has the capability to speak up and truly make a difference with our actions and words.
All that energy spent planning the riots, and executing it, would have been better spent planning a civilised rally or, if you were me, sitting at home busily blogging about the injustice of being a youth.
Either way, instead of resorting to destruction, everything could have been done in a more tasteful manner in order to get the views and opinions across to adults who may seem judgmental at times.
Although the minority of us have indeed managed to tarnish the entire reputation of youth worldwide, there are some of us who genuinely want to be part of the solution and not the problem.
The following days after the riots, young people from all over London gathered in Westminster Central Hall as part of a youth-led event called “Not In Our Name” where they were given the opportunity to express their views and concerns in light of the recent events.
Youth groups gathered throughout the evening and discussed the reasons behind the actions of their peers and also put forward suggestions to prevent more outbreaks throughout the city.
The most crucial element of the event was for the attendees to take a stand and speak out against the media and public portrayal of London youth as a bunch of mindless looters.
Just like the circumstances in London, youth have been associated with all sorts of misdemeanours and felonies.
Whether it’s being caught hanging around in the mamak stalls past our curfews, or serious offences such as looting and rioting, we can’t deny that people tend to assume one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.
So maybe it is time for people to open their eyes and not only notice the young rioters, but also acknowledge the other hundreds and thousands of young people that stayed home.
As John F. Kennedy once timelessly put, “For while they are the youth of today, they shall be the leaders of tomorrow.”
So trust me when I say that our generation is brimming with ideas and enthusiasm.
We are more than capable to run countries and develop new technology so long as people start seeing the glass half full instead of half empty.
q Natasha (@Natasha_MA) may be busy celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri this week, but you can be sure that she will still be tweeting about … stuff.