“Is there anything more absurd than the sight of the ageing children of the 1960s bemoaning the drug, drinking and sex habits of today’s teenagers?” asks Trevor Cook.
“I think it is the cynicism of older generations that is the problem in today’s world. We have been wearied by the ceaseless political battles, by the endless mounds of clever spin, by the exhaustion of old styles of political action, by our occupation with the safe harbours of mortgages and careers.”
Bang on, Trevor! [meaning “Right on!”]
This year’s focus on teenagers and their disgusting behaviour is all too redolent of John Howard‘s “Ming Dynasty” 1950s, or John Major‘s cricket on sun-lit village greens, with white picket fences in the gardens nearby, and cucumber sandwiches in the pavilion.
As Oscar Wilde once said,
“To get back to my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable”
As a step-parent I am all to aware of the damage that alcohol and drugs can cause a teenager. It is something I am made aware of every weekend. But to pretend that this current generation of teenagers are the only ones to have a problem with them is ludicrous. God only knows how so many of my peers, let alone I, survived our teenage and twenty-something years of experimentation and abuse across all forms of hedonism.
Trace your family history if you cannot stand to look at your own and see how many ‘experimented’ with substances that at the time were likely to lead you to death, blindness, hairy palms…
Experimentation will go on; it is a fundamental part of growing up and growing old. It is better we give the teenagers some advice based on our own experience than something out of “Wowser’s Weekly”, which garners about as much respect with teenagers as my own Volvo-owning mother’s driving.
“Lots of young people have lots of problems. Drugs, alcohol, unsafe sex – the same old story.”
Indeed it is, and always has been since the dawn of recorded history.
Genesis 14:18 — And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Or, as Diana puts it in a comment to Trevor’s post,
“I wonder if Hesiod’s account of the Golden Age from Work and Days (11.109-120) is referring to the past or to youth itself:
First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.”
And as Polony appropriately points out,
“Was there EVER a time in history that young people were notable for their sobriety, other than through the historical revisionism that comes with parenthood?”