A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, December 09, 2019

Generational Arrogance: On Tide Pods and Canned Sausages

Every new generation that comes on the scene thinks human history has been waiting with great anticipation for their arrival to fix everything. "We are the ones we've been waiting for," the younger folks smugly believe. But not to be outdone, each older generation assumes that there will be no generation as smart and honorable and hard-working as they. "When we were young, we didn't eat tide pods." Well, no... because when you were a teenager, tide pods didn't exist, but that didn't stop you from engaging in other ridiculous behavior. I can think of more than a few stupid things I did when I was young. The current younger generation is not more stupid, spoiled, or entitled as you were. You are just too old to remember it. Selective amnesia is a wonderful thing!


In fact, teenagers seem hard-wired for risky behavior. As Salynn Boyles notes, "The section of the brain most involved in emotion and social interaction becomes very active during puberty, while the section most critical for regulating behavior is still maturing into early adulthood." This is not a new condition only for people currently twenty to thirty years younger than their critics. Baby Boomers, their parents, and grandparents also had their stupid moments as well.-- Yes-- free love and LSD brought to you by the 60's generation. (And don't forget Vienna Sausages). In fact, this criticism of the younger generation is an old, old story. Check out the following quotes:

  • "They think they know everything, and are always quite sure about it."-- Aristotle 4th Century BC
  • "The beardless youth… does not foresee what is useful, squandering his money."-- Horace 1st Century BC
  • "Our sires' age was worse than our grandsires.' We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt."--  Horace circa 20 BC
  • "Modern fashions seem to keep on growing more and more debased… The ordinary spoken language has also steadily coarsened. People used to say 'raise the carriage shafts' or ‘trim the lamp wick,' but people today say 'raise it' or ‘'trim it.' When they should say, 'Let the men of the palace staff stand forth!' they say, 'Torches! Let's have some light!'"-- Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness), Yoshida KenkĊ 1330 – 1332
  • 'Youth were never more sawcie, yea never more savagely saucie. . . the ancient are scorned, the honourable are contemned, the magistrate is not dreaded."-- Thomas Barnes 1624
  • "… I find by sad Experience how the Towns and Streets are filled with lewd wicked Children, and many Children as they have played about the Streets have been heard to curse and swear and call one another Nick-names, and it would grieve ones Heart to hear what bawdy and filthy Communications proceeds from the Mouths of such…"-- Robert Russel 1695
  • "Whither are the manly vigour and athletic appearance of our forefathers flown? Can these be their legitimate heirs? Surely, no; a race of effeminate, self-admiring, emaciated fribbles can never have descended in a direct line from the heroes of Potiers and Agincourt…"-- Letter in Town and Country magazine republished in Paris Fashion: A Cultural History 1771
  • "The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth…"-- Reverend Enos Hitchcock 1790
  • "…a fearful multitude of untutored savages… [boys] with dogs at their heels and other evidence of dissolute habits…[girls who] drive coal-carts, ride astride upon horses, drink, swear, fight, smoke, whistle, and care for nobody…the morals of children are tenfold worse than formerly."--  Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, Speech to the House of Commons February 28, 1843
I could offer more quotations but I think that is enough. The wise sage of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun. Soon the generation we older folks are complaining about will have grown older and will issue the same criticisms against the younger folks, while the younger folks will roll their eyes at the older folks and their out-dated ways.

So, to my older contemporaries, instead of just repeating the same criticism that each generation has parroted for centuries, I have a better idea-- those of us who have actually gained some wisdom through the journey of life should be ready to offer that wisdom to the younger folks instead of snarky dismissal. In fact, let's even draw on the wisdom we have gained from the stupidity of our younger years as well (the nonsense we've conveniently forgotten). Please stop with the continued criticism of those younger people who need our support and encouragement And... please... please... please... leave the Millennials alone. Remember if you keep abusing them verbally, they know how to sabotage your technology and may make it impossible for you to play Words with Friends and post pictures of cats on social media. So, knock it off! OK Boomer?

And now a word to the younger folks-- instead of rolling your eyes, seek out the wisdom of those who have experiences to offer you that cannot be known because you haven't been around long enough. Some things have stood the test of time because they have been proven to be good and to work well. Of course, not everything is meant to be done the same way forever. Help us older folks to see how change can be good. But don't dismiss the old as just ancient and now irrelevant. The current time is not all it's cracked up to be. We who are older have some wisdom to offer. You may believe we are over the hill, but we are not dead yet. We do have some good ideas to pass on to you.

And stop eating tide pods. They may look tasty, but they are not good for you.

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