In a Word . . .
. . . youth
Where are the wild youth of today? In my own younger days, we disgraced our elders with abandon. All in the pursuit of wisdom.
For is it not writ that “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”? So said poet William Blake. He added: “You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.” We took his sage advice to heart.
Are we of today’s older generation not concrete evidence of the truth of Blake’s insight? We, whose obvious wisdom cannot be denied. Does anyone believe it was bestowed on us as gift?
It was earned, the hard way, through excess of pleasure, thought, word, deed, even life-threatening indulgence. All for wisdom. How we hungered after it!
Even our ideals were excessive. Some of us were the very incarnation of Churchill’s observation that “he who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart, and he who is still a socialist at 40 has no head”. (There were no women then.)
Some of us, sadly, had no heart at any age, preferring to get up early in the morning, while others remain, er, ‘head-less’.
The youth of today have no . . . youth! It was with despair I read last month that fewer and fewer young people in Ireland are drinking, smoking, having sex or taking drugs.
We have disgraced ourselves again! It is a national embarrassment that almost two-thirds of our young people, 64 per cent, never had an alcoholic drink, just 11 per cent have tried smoking and, worse, that only 24 per cent have had sex.
Then there is their insistence on good health. Teenage consumption of sweets and sugar-sweetened drinks is down by six percentage points while more than half of them exercise FOUR or MORE times a week. Shocking.
A mere 9 per cent follow in their elders’ few footsteps (at their age) by admitting to being physically inactive.
What hope is there for this country with such well-behaved youth? Oh for our younger days, or the youth of Aristotle’s time, of whom he said: “They overdo everything – they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.”
Youth, from Old English, geoguð.related to geong ‘young’.