No point or showing interest and no hope of being heard
In Lithuania, there are quite a number of organizations successfully attracting youngsters with common goals. There also are activists who bravely state their opinions, participate in discussions with politicians, and try to draw their attention toward the urgent problems that currently alarm the native youth. However, political engagement among young people seems to be the exception rather than the rule. In fact, most representatives of the young generation tend to be very far away from any political processes and they acknowledge this as a fact.
"I dare say that today my interest in politics is much more active than it used to be, however, I don’t think that it is enough. I am only drawn to subjects that are directly related to my current life or that I find interesting. The rest of the political landscape often seems like an endless competition and meaningless drama between various political parties," said Samanta (name changed).
The young woman finds it hard to explain why she is so indifferent to the political processes that take place in her native country.
"I'm not sure where this indifference stems from. Political issues are certainly the prevailing topic of discussion in my family, but I tend to avoid those conversations. Maybe I do it on purpose because I don't have the knowledge or arguments to support any particular side. My parents always stress the importance of staying informed about what's happening in our country and the world, and I agree with them. However, sometimes I just can't see the point in constantly focusing on it all," said Samanta.
She admitted often having doubts about whether the voice of young people actually matters.
"As I've mentioned earlier, I'm only interested in topics that for some reason catch my eye. However, when I observe the stance taken by Lithuania on issues such as LGBTQ+ community rights, which are of great concern to today's youth who advocate for tolerance and diversity, I begin to question if the views and opinions of young people are actually valued," said Samanta.
Samanta assumes that this could be the reason why young people refrain from making their positions heard.
"Sometimes, it seems that whenever young people speak up about issues that are important to them and demand action, they become victims of their initiative. The general public is quick to criticize us for not knowing what we want, thinking only of our rights but forgetting about our responsibilities. I think that every young individual has heard harsh and bitter comments that do not foster motivation but add to the fear of speaking up," said Samanta.
Indifference is a bad solution
Samanta agrees that being afraid to speak up and showing political apathy is not a wise solution as in the end such an attitude can backfire on those who hold it.
"I understand that both in personal life and on a global scale one should not wait but act when certain change is needed. However, I struggle to find the motivation to take action unless it's related to elections and the responsibility to vote for a particular candidate," explained Samanta.
When asked what could change her attitude toward political engagement, the young woman said she would be inspired by positive examples and civic initiatives from young people.
"I truly admire those young people who actively engage in civic life, raise significant issues, initiate discussions, and confidently express their opinions. I see them as strong and outstanding individuals because, in general, most young people tend to be passive and wait for someone else to take the lead. Although such an approach may seem the easiest, it hardly is a better way," said Samanta.
When analyzing the causes that determined her political indifference Samanta thinks it worthwhile looking back on her experience during her school years.
"When thinking of school years, I don't remember any significant emphasis on encouraging young people's interest or involvement in political processes. If this had been a priority, I might have developed different habits, aspirations, or goals. However, I don't think it's fair to solely blame the school for this. The truth is, I simply wasn't interested in politics at the time. Instead, I was involved in activities that I found enjoyable and worthwhile," said Samanta.
Prefer to focus on other activities
A similar account of her involvement in politics provided one more young woman. Krisitna (name changed) acknowledged that she practically never thinks about political issues or talks about them with others.
"I'm not interested in politics at all. I just don't have such a habit. Occasionally, I come across news related to politics online or hear it on TV or radio, but it doesn't play a significant role in my life at the moment," said Kristina.
However, like Simona, she admitted that such an attitude is not something that she is proud of.
"I don't think that my current attitude is praiseworthy, as I am fully aware that the decisions I make today have an impact on my future. Perhaps someday I will come to the realization that I cannot simply stand by and watch as events unfold around me," said Kristina.
According to Kristina, her main focus lies on other things that now appear to be important.
"I have some friends and acquaintances who are actively engaged in certain political processes. They join various organizations, participate in debates, and so on. I know that they have been preoccupied with this activity for a long time and their interest in politics started as early as during the school years. So it seems that there are plenty of young people who represent us. That is why I currently prefer to pay attention to other things that I see as meaningful," explained Krisitna.
Disillusionment with the reality
Krisitina acknowledges that while reading news on Lithuanian and global politics from various sources and watching it on TV she often questions why certain individuals hold important political positions.
"It may sound absurd but my indifference to politics is largely determined by the type of people who hold positions of power. For instance, observing the current members of parliament who have held their positions for a long time, it is not surprising that many young people choose to not get involved in politics," said Kristina.
As she points out, sometimes there is an impression that the current situation will last forever.
"For years we see the individuals whose way of thinking totally differs from that of the youth. It seems that their opinion will never change, especially because it is supported by most of the older generation," said Kristina.
If you're not interested in politics, it will become interested in you
Although the degree of young people's involvement in politics brings up disappointment, we should not lose hope. As Umberto Masi, the president of the Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT), told Delfi earlier, for the situation to improve, some changes and solutions are needed in areas such as citizenship education, practical training, and others. However, the crucial aspect is to ensure that young people themselves have a clear understanding of the importance of being politically active.
"Politics has a direct impact on our daily lives, which is why it is essential to take an interest in it. Although we have the option of not following political processes, it is crucial to consider the cost we may have to pay later on. By not being interested in politics, we run the risk of forfeiting our right and opportunity to contribute to the development of our country and giving that right to individuals or groups who won't pay attention to our needs and expectations," said Masi.
Masi argues that if you're not interested in politics, it will eventually become interested in you. For this reason, he urges everyone to think about the significance of political and social processes in our daily lives.
"Every single day, we are presented with opportunities to be active, civic, and community-minded or to remain passive and distant from each other. Being indifferent towards others is the opposite of being a good citizen. Every action we take to help others is our contribution to building a more active and engaged community," said Masi.