Why Do We Idolize Youth?

Nela & Boris at Lighthouse Point complex - Collingwood, Ontario (August 2nd, 2008)If you were to go back in time a few hundred years, you would find a culture that held wisdom and experience in high esteem. Young people were taught to look up to those who were older, and growing up was not in any way abhorred, although some may have disliked aging for physiological reasons. However, today, we live in a culture that is nearly the opposite.

In the last few hundred years, we have seen a massive cultural shift. As people began to move away from Christianity and its teachings, they began to place less and less value on wisdom, character, experience, and principles. There was a wave of independence and individualism that swept our culture, and suddenly it was encouraged to blaze your own path and to not comply with social norms or traditions.

This shift has undermined the value of the elderly. People no longer rely on the wisdom of those who have gone before them. They no longer need their experience. Afterall, life is about making your own unique experience, so why would you need someone else’s?

This devaluing of older people has led to an idolization of youth. Young people have their whole lives ahead of them, they can become anything, they are vivacious and energetic, and they usually have few obligations, or so we are told. Young people have everything going for them, or so it appears.

What we have forgotten is that these young formative years are not free of responsibilities. Young people are developing the habits and character that will go with them for the rest of their lives. In reality, they have an obligation to their future selves, spouses, and families to be responsible and to glean wisdom from those that have gone before them.

Our culture is an upside down mess. Sure, young people are beautiful and passionate, they have their whole lives ahead of them, and it is certainly a fun time of life, but we can’t be young forever. Each season of life has a purpose and is good. Youth is a time of preparation for the rest of life, and if we forget that, it is a huge waste.

Older people are not valueless, uncool, or boring. They have a life’s worth experiences and lessons which they can give. They are can help us avoid pain and hardship. They can teach us so much, if only we are willing to listen.

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