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.

The findings from a study at NUI Galway involved 15,500 Irish teenagers and was part of a larger World Health Organisation study.

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’.

inaword@irishtimes.com

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.