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Columns

October 5, 2013

Here's what I've learned about the next generation

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on 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.”

That little tantrum came from the 8th century B.C. poet, Hesiod, who while perhaps more eloquent than today’s “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” senior citizens, despaired for the future of his country.

Somehow, despite Hesiod’s misgivings, Greece survived for another 200 years before the philosopher Socrates — according to his pupil Plato, weighed in about the juvenile delinquents of his day.

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders; … they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

As it turned out, the authorities felt that old Socrates was more a threat to the youngsters than vice versa. He was tried and convicted on — among other accusations — a charge of corrupting the morals of Athenian youth. When offered a cup of hemlock, he willingly drank it, possibly believing that death was preferable to having to put up any longer with all those rotten kids.

Folks hear a lot nowadays about how clueless today’s young people seem to be.

I know this to be true because a lot of what those within earshot are hearing comes from me.

Society has dubbed those born between about 1980 and 2000 as “Generation Y” or “Millennials.”

It’s beyond foolish, of course, to categorize Millennials or any other age group as one monolithic entity, all with the same characteristics without exception for individuality. But somehow that realization hasn’t stopped me from every now and again making portentous, unflattering pronouncements about all these people who will outlive me. Among those sentiments are these:

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