Religion can be defined as a belief in, reverence for, or worship of a deity or deities and an observance of a particular doctrine or doctrines. But religion is much more. It is a way of life and a method of thinking, conduct and speech. Religion builds our character, instills in us values and inspires good deeds. It teaches us to be scrupulous and to know the difference between right and wrong. Thus, it molds our conscience. That is why religion is so important to the youth in society, especially now when there are so many distractions, avenues of escape to immorality and temptations to be led astray.

It seems as if the tapestry of a good, pure and disciplined society that took our forefathers lifetimes to weave has fallen to rapid moral decay and frayed ends. Abuse of drugs and alcohol, prostitution, defiance of parents and family life, theft, violence and wanton destruction are rising rapidly, particularly among the twelve to twenty-five-years age group. Alcohol abuse is responsible for rampant drunk driving among the youth as well as sixty percent of petty theft and fifty percent of spouse and sibling battery. We pick up the papers and read of so many crimes being committed by the youth of our country. Why? Can this be avoided or at least curbed? Of course it can! It all begins in the home. If each parent took his or her child to the temple, church or mosque and brought them up in an atmosphere of spiritual knowledge, there would not be as many lost people out there. The vicious circle of domestic violence, oppression and hate would be broken.

Wisdom, no matter how little, goes a long way. Religion and God would provide a haven, a place of hope when feeling distraught and love when experiencing negativity. They will make and keep you strong. Adversity will not hold you down, but spur you on to achieve more. When you think all has failed and a fight between you and the world is on, your faith will be your weapon.This is very, very important for the youth. I cannot even begin to stress its significance. The figures of academic dropouts and suicides are increasing. Times are tough. Students are giving their all, but they seem to just fall short. Frustration and the thought of themselves as failures eat their spirit away. They loose sight of all their hopes and aspirations, and they shut the gates to imagination and smother their dreams. If they only knew that with faith they could fly anywhere, no matter how many obstacles come in their way.

Youth is often described as the springtime of our lives. It is when we are most energetic, imaginative, impulsive and carefree, living life to the fullest. Religion in youth helps us to enjoy all these, and other things, even more. We learn to appreciate life for what it was, what it is and what it will become. We learn to see people for who they are, and not what they can offer. We learn to laugh and sing with our spirit, to let our personality shine through our eyes, to appreciate nature and all its glory. We learn what it truly means to be free.

As we go through life, the lessons will be many. But our life will be incomplete without love; love’s glory will never shine without freedom; freedom will never be achieved without peace; and peace cannot exist without spirituality–our religion.

Varsha Ramoutar, 22,is a veterinary medical science student at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.