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Friday, 28 December 2012 09:30

Dear Shakespeare – Youth bashing

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My dear Billy,
Has it occurred to you sometimes that ever since God created young people He also created the adults to criticise, castigate and denigrate them?
All through human existence and beyond, transcending the wrongly programmed end-of-the world on21.12.12, certain grown-ups have always emerged to find fault with the young ones and to disparage and malign them.

Four hundred years before Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrated this week, one Greek philosopher, Plato by name, imprecated the youth of his time, accusing them of indiscipline, sloth, and irresponsibility. He censured them for their looks and charged that they were uncouth and unkempt, and deplored the fact that they spent their time in idleness.

Some 2,400 years later, on Thursday December 20, 2012, one Head of a tertiary institution hammered his nail on the coffin of diatribe against the youth. Availing himself of the opportunity extended to him to say a few words on the solemn occasion of a book launch, he launched a full-fledged vituperation against the younger generation to a distinguished audience consisting mainly of senior citizens. I can bet that many of those present might have been elated to hear such invective against the grandsons and granddaughters, and sons and daughters of this land.

Notwithstanding the fact that the anti-youth guru was in the middle of a 9-speech programme, he dissertated at full length and left no effort untapped to damn the youth, without any regard for his haggard listeners, or respect for his indulgent hosts. He talked and talked and talked. The windbag knew no rest or respite, blowing with full force.

In a bid to comfort his action as head of his august institution, but we suspect an act of revenge against his herd, he loudly announced to the book-launch audience that he had valiantly proscribed an end-of-year party that the students of his institution were eagerly looking forward to. “So long as I command here, there’ll be no end-of-year celebration,” he proudly pronounced, before reading a kilometric confidential letter from one of the inmates of the institution congratulating him on his brave decision.

The reason motivating this drastic decision? The young people likely to attend the party would be making excessive use of alcohol, and he would not tolerate such a crime.

It never came to his mind that he should first of all make the premises of his institution an alcohol-free zone, or that he could issue orders that no alcohol should be served and consumed during the prohibited end-of-year party. It was so much easier to cancel the party altogether, thus depriving people who had been working together for a whole year of the chance to meet in a different atmosphere and socialize and get to know each other on another plane. These are the very instigators who foment rebellion among the young and then complain that the young are rebellious.

I have come across countless men and women of my generation who do not miss a single opportunity to find fault with the young, always referring to “our days” when things were supposedly different and better and rosy. But they never did anything in their own youth; on the contrary some were downright bad and refractory and wasted their poor parents’ hard-earned money in futile purchases and pursuits. Nor have they fared any better as grown-up adults, often indulging in corruption and other shameful activities. But they are ever the first to raise their dirty fingers against our youth.

And the youth, the butt of this deprecation, what do they think of this wholesale accusation? I believe their attitude is the same as that of any dog towards any post, my dear Billy. You will find them daily in their classrooms, trying to imbibe the instruction that their sometimes devoted teachers are trying to impart to them, wrestling with private tuition and homework; you will find them practising sports and other activities, indulging in artistic and cultural pursuits.

Some of them are, together with their teachers, experimenting and inventing in the context of Maurice Ile Durable; many are being trained in the different vocations, thousands are employed in trades or services or attending university and other institutions of learning here or abroad; all are preparing themselves to take charge of tomorrow. Quite a number are waiting for those who have already done their days to quit and make room for new blood, but who are still clinging to their positions like the proverbial dog in the manger.

Naturally, it’s not all roses. The thorns are there too. Quite a number of young boys and girls have gone astray and taken to bad ways. But who are those responsible for forcing them on the wrong path? Are not the problems of youth adults’ responsibilities? Who is to blame if our values are going to the dogs? Instead of casting aspersions we should rather look into the mirror of our conscience and do some serious heart-searching. We would be surprised to see the result.

At the beginning of the New Year, may you and I have the wisdom of understanding and appreciating our youth instead of blaming them unnecessarily, my dear Billy.
Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2012 11:00
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