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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kids of today

"Childen today are tyrants.  They contradict their parents, gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers".  Socrates, Greek philosopher, 470-399BC

So often we hear older people complaining about "kids of today" having no respect. However, respect is a two way street.  If we treat people like they are fools and speak to them that way, is it any wonder that they respond in kind?

Children of today are no different to children of previous generations in terms of behaviour or attitudes.  Forget this rubbish about "gen X", "gen Y".  People are people and they don't change.  This includes the propensity for adults to believe that things were better back in the day!

Rather than me expound on this, I'll leave this to some of the world's greatest philosophers to make the point that this criticism of the young has been the habit of older people for millenia:

"We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents.  They are rude and impatient.  They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control" - Inscription on 6,000 year old Egyptian tomb

"Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world is evidently approaching" - Assyrian stone tablet, circa 2000-2800BC

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependant on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words ... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint" - Hesiod, 8th century BC

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect to their elders and love chatter in place of exercise.  Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannise their teachers" - attributed to Socrates by Plato - 4th Century BC.

"What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?" - Plato, 4th century BC

"The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age.  They are impatient of all restraint... As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress". - Attributed to Peter the Hermit, 1274AD. 

 "The most aggravating thing about the younger generation is that I no longer belong to it" John Dryden 1631-1700.

"The humour of blaming the present, and admiring the past, is strongly rooted in human nature, and has an influence even on persons endued with the profoundest judgement and most extensive learning" - David Hume, Scottish philospher, 1754

 "The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood".  Logan Pearsall Smith 1865-1946

"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid" - G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936

"Juvenile delinquency has increased at an alarming rate and is eating at the heart of America".  - United States juvenile court judge, 1946.

 "When I was young there was no respect for the young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for the old.  I missed out coming and going".  JB Priestley 1894-1984.

"Anything invented before your 15th birthday is the order of nature. That's how it should be. Anything invented between your 15th and 35th birthday is new and exciting, and you might get a career there. Anything invented after that day, however, is against nature and should be prohibited".
 Douglas Adams 1952-2001.

People who complain about children of today, need to remember the role they play in shaping children (and remember this is the same development that they went through when growing up):

"In the life of children there are two very clear-cut phases, before and after puberty. Before puberty the child's personality has not yet formed and it is easier to guide its life and make it acquire specific habits of order, discipline and work. After puberty the personality develops impetuously and all extraneous intervention becomes odious, tyrannical, insufferable. Now it so happens that parents feel the responsibility towards their children precisely during this second period, when it is too late, then of course the stick and violence enter the scene and yield very few results indeed. Why not instead take an interest in the child during the first period"  - Antonio Gramsci, 1891-1937.

As mentioned at the beginning, respect is a two way street.  Joseph Addison provides pertinent advice for those who wish to be respected, whether young or old:

"He who would pass his declining years with honor and comfort, should when young, consider that he may one day become old, and when he is old, that he has once been young".  Joseph Addison, 1672-1719.

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