I came across this article in the Golden Star dated February 8, 1962 and it made me smile and shake my head.
It might have been penned 57 years ago, but it could have been today. It was written by Norma Ballendine for the Golden High School Report. We love Norma here at the Golden Museum, she has been volunteering here for the past four years on a regular weekly basis and she is a gem.
Younger Generation Hopeless: Says An Expert
Today’s youth has the older generation tearing [out] its hair, and the reasons are aptly described by this expert. Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.
Does this describe the younger generation? Socrates thought so and many people still do. Do you know when Socrates lived? He was born about 500 years before the time of Christ, but his age means nothing. His reasoning is as old as the hills and as young and fresh as a drop of rain. Times may have changed, but not the experts. When it comes to youth, apparently, they’ve never known the answers and never will.
In view of Socrates’ remarks on the youth of the day, I would like to rise in defense for them. What I say will be directed against his remarks, not against Socrates himself. He said that today’s youth loved luxury. I would like to meet just one person who doesn’t love luxury. From the day we enter school until the day we leave, we are constantly encouraged to better ourselves so that in years to come we can acquire good jobs and be able to afford the luxuries of life.
As far as bad manners [are] concerned, they are evident in all age groups. After all, we, being a decade or two younger, are still learning about good manners along with everything else, and no one ever learned anything without making a few mistakes.
Contempt for authority and disrespectful actions are two more characteristics which Socrates gave the younger generation. Authority comes only after respect has been earned. A person may be admired for acquiring a high degree of education, people may seek out a person because he is practical and knows how to settle differences and problems; but to be respected for oneself and not for one’s position requires something which all persons are not prepared to do. To be respected, one must respect others, he must give a little of his better self to at least one person each day, and must have the courage of his own convictions so that he can remain an individual, and in doing so, build up a very valuable self-respect.
Socrates said that we contradict our parents. In school, teachers try to make us think for ourselves and to question everything we hear. Most young people will welcome a logical argument in which it is understood that both sides will be duly listened to. And, given a chance, most of us are quite capable of offering a sound, logical argument on a variety of subjects.
Chattering in the presence of company, and gobbling down food are in actual fact seen in every age group, but happily enough, these characteristics belong to the minority group.
It was said by Socrates that today’s youth tyrannize their teachers. Perhaps they do, but we must not forget that before us there was another generation, and after hearing some reports from the older generation I am very happy to say that we are really no worse than they were. For instance, I was told of a little incident in which a group of boys in a small one room-school, took it upon themselves to spank their teacher. This incident, by the way, took place in the 1920s.
So there, Mr. Citizen, is your younger generation. We have been like this for at least 2,500 years [according] to Socrates, and are not likely to change overnight. There are of course, a few things to remember. If one looks for the bad in people, it will come out in a very justifiable retaliation; but if one seeks the good in people, it is bound to show up and stay.