Youth is wasted on the young. If youth knew, if age could. If I could do it all again. Who hasn’t — if they have reached a certain age — not expressed such sentiments. It’s not a far step from there to: hey, you kids get off my lawn! Or Damn kids today!
Well, old timers, get over it. Ageism is no better than any other one of those discriminatory mindsets that suggests that because someone is x than they must be y. There is nothing wrong with youth today that hasn’t been wrong — or right — with every generation since the beginning of time.
OG! Those kids have been painting animal pictures on the walls again!!! I can just hear the outrage in those early cavemen voices.
But seriously, things are fine or they can be if we collectively stop looking at our own needs and start thinking about the greater good.
Let’s start with things like education or reading or ability to think critically. My favorite educational quote has always been: Standards are falling. The first person to state it may have been Plato. Standards aren’t falling, they are changing. What was required of people in life or in the workforce today is simply different than what was required fifty years ago. The reality is: education succeeded and failed in equal measure to prepare people two generations ago as it has this past ten years. Most people survive the experience.
I’ve also heard that kids today don’t read. Or write real books. The fact is, reading has actually increased in the last ten years and the fastest growing demographics is among people age 15 to 25. Why? Because it is something they can do on their own, that belongs to them and that they don’t have to share (Oops, not good news for Goodreads!).
And when I go out to writing conventions or book fairs — it is true I see a lot of grey heads. But I’m increasingly seeing them everywhere. What amazes me is how many young writers and readers I see — people approaching their art or the art of others with enthusiasm and creativity.
Because those are some of the best things that youth brings to every situation. Enthusiasm, energy, unbounded creativity, innocence. Yes, that last one is important. Innocence is a wonderful quality — too often dismissed as naiveté. Remember: cynicism = hope plus experience. Too often that’s what we oldsters bring to the table.
So embrace youth and encourage it and don’t fear it. They are the future. But so are we.
But that’s ten minutes.