I was poking around on Facebook this morning, catching my breath after dealing with some chores, and I ran across an interesting post that discussed Sensitivity Training. A somewhat lengthy thread replying to the post got into the tendency of today’s youth to dismiss comments by those of us who are older with a somewhat contemptuous “Ok, Boomer”. Being part of the tail end of that generation, I thought I would explore this a bit.
As for the “Ok, Boomer” syndrome…that is nothing new. America has had a cult of Youth since before my time. Anyone over a certain age is considered to be a waste of space. I refer you to the Hippy culture of the 1960s…”Don’t trust anyone over the age of 30″. Look at the quiet prejudice exhibited by companies who find ways to refuse to hire anyone older than 40 (and the tech companies who halve that age). Look at the tendency of parents through the 70s, 80s, and even into the 90s, to treat their children as small adults…and allow them to make their own decisions, without any guidance.
Having survived both ends of that age spectrum (so far), I know that youth has a lot of positives…energy, a flexible mind, a willingness to experiment. However, they also have so little experience in life that they are often arrogant and lack empathy for others. I am reminded here of the saying from MY youth “Hire the young, while they still know everything!” I have said before that children, when they are born, are a nearly blanks slate. That slate is filled, over time, with the rules they live by. Now, if the parents do not make an effort to write rules that help these kids become tolerant, empathetic, helpful, and good citizens…that slate will be filled by other sources. These include the way children treat each other, movies, video games, and television. Think about it. are the latter sources of rules really going to provide the best rules to live by? I argue they do not. When I was very young, and forced into socialization by attending public schools, I learned early on that a vast majority of children can be little monsters. They never have the social rules that adults have, and so act without thinking of consequences. They look upon anything that is not exactly like them to be “The Other“, and as such tend to abuse that person or thing. I have been doing cat rescue for many years, and I cannot tell you the number of times we have collected cats that kids were shooting at with BB guns, throwing rocks at, or abusing in other fashions.
I believe this Worship of Youth is a terrible weakness in America, and one that we are paying for now. I have always admired the way other cultures, such as Indigenous People in America, and the Japanese, for example, respect their elders and honor them. Age brings experience, and experience brings wisdom. For example, when I warn a young person to keep their knives sharp, so they will be less dangerous, I am doing so because I have used dull knives…and have the scars to prove it. Youth may believe they will be safe, because they are strong, and capable, and a dull knife just requires a little bit more effort… Am I saying that parents should be “Helicopter Parents” – hovering over their kids, and micromanaging their every action? Of course not. What I am saying that parents should do is take on the task of giving their children positive values, such as I have mentioned above. They should teach them to be honest and responsible…and that actions have consequences. By doing this, the children are more likely to become the sort of good, upright citizens that we wish America had more of.
That having been said, I do realize that as many folks age, they become set in their ways, and unwilling to accept change…and can develop other bad habits. I do not think that the pronouncements of the old should be taken as gospel truth. However, I am reminded of that exhortation from the Bible – “Do unto others as ye would have done to you”. The youth who are being contemptuous of their elders will find soon enough that they are on the receiving end of that contempt…and how will they feel THEN???
God Help Us All!
Be safe…wear your mask, social distance, get vaccinated and boosted, and practice good sanitation!
Bee Man Dave