Youth. (Considering this word applies to me more than its opposite, maybe I’m not really the one to be addressing this topic, but considering I’ll be there some day, I figured I’d give it some thought in advance.)
Youth. Is it a thing to be prized.
(Yeah, I know, look around, it’s a dumb question.)
But, in truth, I’m not really asking if it’s a thing that is prized, can be prized (living in our culture makes that immediately obvious). What I’m asking is if it is truly something that ought to be prized, esteemed above other things? Is it something that is a blessing, or is it to be considered the ultimate blessing?
Why is this something so special and even coveted in our culture? When you are young, do you have something that those who are not young do not have? I mean yes, I get that there are the advantages (or should I say, blessings) of youthful vigor, prowess, appetite, fervor, imagination, adventure and appearance.
As I craft the list above I keep adding items because I hear the random exclamations of a regretful individual: “That’s what I really miss now that I’ve been shoved around the bend!” This is the verse of many older people, it seems; or people who are afraid if they’re not careful they too will soon by older.
Now, I don’t want to appear to be an opinionated whippersnapper (Whoa! Where do these things come from?!) since I’m not there yet, but I would like to challenge the inordinate value placed upon youth today.
I believe it is wrong for several reasons. For one thing, it diminishes the value attributed to those who don’t have it. This is a problem both publicly–in the way others treat them and media represents them–and privately–in the way the not-so-young see themselves.
This leads to other problems. Youths are exalted to positions of prestige and primary impact before they know what to do with it. They develop a sense of entitlement and a neglect of others, possibly even scorn–especially of those beneath them on the scale of desirable age.
Maturity, good sense and wisdom are lost to us because they are left both uncultivated and un-exhibited. The growth and human development which comes with a great measure of experience and attention to life lessons is demoralized. Exalting youth says that you are not only just fine as you are, you are at your best right now. The idea is to not waste it all on trying to become holy and selfless–this would put you shamefully at odds with disposing of your present advantages.
Growing up and becoming responsible are now things to be greatly avoided. We must hold them off as long as we can. Yet, we fail to realize that growing up and shouldering responsibility are not things that merely come to us with age, they are things that must be consciously developed within us according to the choices we make about our direction.
Life here on earth is not a lengthy proposition and we should treat it as such. We should learn to treat the seasons that mark it as a gift, even as they mark us. They contribute to the meaning we have in life–they teach us how to make the most of our time. They remind us that seasons–childhood, youth, adulthood and old-age–don’t define us so much as they carry us along to who we are destined to become.
After all, the real living and being come after this. It is what we’re preparing for; the existence we’re made for. And I don’t know about you, but I want to get the most out of every season of living while I’m here so that I’m not ill-prepared!