Why is it that youth automatically equals ignorance? I don’t mean this in the sense that they’re synonyms – you definitely won’t find the word young when you look up ignorance in a thesaurus. I mean it in the way the older generation view young people. If asked for their opinion, most people would say that young people are ignorant, lazy and impassionate. They have no respect for their elders, they have no respect for authority and they definitely have no understanding of good music. They are not spiritual, and if they are they’re simply adhering to the State religion without critical thought. They have no mind of their own, quote everyone but themselves and have no true understanding of the concept of original and critical thought.
I’m 25 years old and I’m well on my way towards a master’s degree in public international law. I passionately advocate human rights and strongly believe that every human being deserves respect and honor and to be treated equally. I treat everyone I meet with respect, and expect them to do the same to me. And I definitely don’t think the age of great music is over yet. In fact, it will never be over.
As a young person, I’ve lived my entire life hearing about how things were better “back then,” and especially so in the 60’s with the great social revolution. The youth of the 60's didn't start the revolution, it had been a long time coming, but it is argued that they were more aware, more involved, more everything than today's youth. Today’s youth knows nothing and behaves horribly. Truth be told, I feel that the prejudice many members of the older generation harbors towards young people is not only painfully obvious, but often also lacking any solid ground at all. In my life the occasions when someone older than myself has behaved disrespectfully or condescending towards me far outnumber the occasions when I’ve behaved badly towards someone older than myself. I realize of course, that I’m generalizing – the very thing I’m telling you not to do – and not all people think this way, but even the most open-minded people can sometimes find themselves regarding the young generation as a mindless whole.
Frank wrote a terrific post recently that I urge you to read. His post wasn’t as much about the young generation being ignorant, as it was about the universal search for enlightenment that took place in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, only to slowly give way to more mundane goals. It was extremely well written and he put forth some great points. But while he didn’t write about the apparent inadequacy of young people today, it was brought up in the comment field. This is what inspired this post today, the way in which a young person will automatically be put in the category “young and ignorant, knows nothing of the real world.”
Sure, there are always a few rotten eggs among the youth, but there were just as many rotten eggs in the 60’s and 70’s. Yes, I’m talking about you, dear reader. I’m sure that many things that you did back then would easily land you in jail today. I doubt 20-year olds 40 years ago had a greater understanding of the world. They might have had easier access to drugs, but they weren’t any less lazy or ignorant than we are today. The only thing that has changed in 40 years is technology. While the youth of the 60’s were out in the streets, fighting to be heard, the youth of today use the venues they have at their disposal, e.g. the internet. And even in the 60’s and 70’s when young people rallied for peace, love and understanding, most young people just followed the leaders. They listened to anyone with decent rhetorical skills and took to the ideas presented to them – just like they do today. They didn’t have grand and original ideas worthy of anyone’s attention; they simply joined the crowd – which is exactly what today’s youth is accused of doing.
What made the social revolution of the 60’s so special? How was it different from the thousands of young people fighting for peace and understanding and a common goal in today’s world? It’s said that young people today don’t have the same deep understanding of life as the youth had in the 60’s. I say that this is simply not true. With the vast amount of information being forced upon us every day, we have no choice but to be aware of the world. I’ve grown up with video games and computers, but I’ve also ran around outside, played in the rain and built tree houses in the forest. I’ve read the great philosophers and studied religions and beliefs outside my own. The search for the great universal truth isn’t over, even though everyone knows the answer is 42. The search has just taken a new face, because today’s youth has different starting point than the generations before us.
And who made the world what it is today? It sure wasn’t the 20-year olds. I was never around in the 60’s, hell – my mom was hardly even around in the 60’s. I never heard the speeches, never lived the spiritual revolution, never searched for the great universal truth that would free us all while protesting in the streets and smoking marijuana. I never saw the world go from a spiritual awakening to falling asleep again, losing focus on the great goal of uniting all people in harmony. The very same people who preached love and peace eventually quit the drugs when it got too expensive, put their bra back on because who like their boobs hanging in the wind anyway, and little by little let go of the silly notion of peace and love. The young generation was born with their bras back on, they were taught that drugs are bad and that while peace and love are admirable goals, those damned foreigners just can’t agree to give it a try. The world was like this when I was born. This is the only world I’ve ever known. And I’m making the best of it, even though I’m a lazy, ignorant, no-good young person with lousy taste in music.
Of course I only know what I see. I’m describing what I see in Finland and Europe, I can’t write about what’s happening in other places, e.g. the USA. However, I would like to believe that what I’ve said today pertains to young people all over the world. So perhaps we should just consider that it might not be the young generation that is lazy and ignorant – perhaps it’s the older generation that once was proactive and involved that has now become passive and simply can’t see the young generation for what it truly is.
If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to congratulate you and ask you to please check out what my fellow bloggers have written for this week’s Theme Thursday.
Edit: I just realized that today it's been exactly one year since I started this blog. Time flies when you're having fun. And fruit flies like a banana. Just ask Nonamedufus.