Youth is characterised by ‘blunt knowingness.’ I recall as a teenager, my mother brandishing a key ring which stated emphatically, ‘Hire a teenager while they know everything!’ Well, I certainly didn’t disappoint; I lost a lot of ‘knowledge’ as soon as I hit my mature adult years!
Jokes aside, when youth takes a stand, everyone it seems is critical of it. On one side there’s probably a lot of ignorance (along with its close cousin ‘arrogance’) but on the other there’s a boldness and a commitment to ideals that’s sadly lacking in many adults who’ve long lost the passion for the risk involved in rocking the boat.
This is why I love the following quote. It challenges our respect of youth and possibly restores it a place in our otherwise ‘safe’ world.
“Youth may be headstrong, but it will advance its allotted length. Through the ages in the battle with the powers of evil--with poverty, misery, ignorance, war, ugliness, and slavery--youth has steadily turned on the enemy. That is why I never turn away from the new generation impatiently because of its knowingness. Through it alone shall salvation come” --Helen Keller.Virtues like hope and fun and honesty and challenge are alive and well with the youth. It is sad that in the maturation process some of the cathartic and energising qualities of youth are burned off. We stick our heads up often enough only to have them chopped off with monotonous regularity and we soon learn to pull our heads in, and know when to duck for cover.
In this sense adulthood is a case of learned hopelessness. Or is it wisdom of the years? It depends on our viewpoint as both are visible.
Would we not be better off living a little more courageously, certainly at least from a moral standpoint (without losing ourselves in legalism)? Would we also not be better off--for the benefit of our present-day youth--to be more tolerant and encouraging of them, understanding that they live on a precipice?
(The precipice is a transition time of finding a way in life; a way that is hopefully acceptable to the adult world around them and within their contexts. It’s trial and error in defining who they are. ‘Who’ are they?... Who am I? Who are you?)
And do not the youth provide us with a great moral compass for the evil of today, with their clear, uninhibited, unspoilt view of things? For these have not yet learned the somewhat maladaptive behaviour of ‘pulling their heads in.’
We do need ways of harnessing the little gems of salvific value that our youth bring to their world; countering the temptation to put down and disregard. Youth are our future. Not only that, but their quality of tenacity is something we adults can re-learn and mimic. And we can be winners for it. It’s simply food for thought.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.