The Younger Generation Knows Best

Old people are always saying that the young are not what they were. The same comment is made from generation to generation and it is always true. It has never been truer than it is today. The young are better educated. They have more money to spend and enjoy their free­dom. They grow up more quickly and are not so dependent on their parents. They think more for themselves and do not blindly accept the ideals of their elders. Ever/ new generation is different from the one that preceded it. Today the difference is very marked indeed.

The old The Younger Generation Knows Best always assume that they know best for the simple reason that they have been around a bit longer. They don't like to feel that their values are being questioned or threatened. And this is precise­ly what the young are doing. They take leave to doubt that the older generation has created the best of all possible worlds. What they reject more than anything is conformity. Office hours, for instance, are nothing more than enforced slavery. Wouldn't people work bet­ter if they were given complete freedom and responsibility? And what about clothing? Who said that The Younger Generation Knows Best all the men in the world should wear dull grey suits and short haircuts? If we turn our minds to more serious matters, why have the older generation so often used violence to solve their problems? Why are they so unhappy and guilt-ridden in their personal lives, so obsessed with mean ambitions and the desire to amass more and more material possessions? Can anything be right with the rat-race? Haven't the old lost touch with all that is important in life?

These are not questions the older generation can shrug off light­ly. Their record over The Younger Generation Knows Best the past forty years or so hasn't been exactly spotless. Traditionally, the young have turned to their elders for guidance. Today, the situation might be reversed. The old — if they are prepared to admit it — could learn a thing or two from their chil­dren. One of the biggest lessons they could learn is that enjoyment is not "sinful". Enjoyment is a principle one could apply to all aspects of life. It is surely not wrong to enjoy your work and enjoy your lei­sure; to shed restricting inhibitions. It is surely not wrong to live in the present The Younger Generation Knows Best rather than in the past or future. This emphasis on the present is only to be expected because the young have grown up under the shadow of the bomb: the constant threat of complete an­nihilation. This is their glorious heritage. Can we be surprised that they should so often question the sanity of the generation that be­queathed it?

(From: "For and Against" by L.G. Alexander)

2.Find in the text its leading ideas and present them in the form of clear-cut
statements.

3.Find in the text statements with which you agree; with which you disagree.
Explain your The Younger Generation Knows Best attitude.

4.Study the counter-arguments to the text you have read and discuss the problems raised in class using both the arguments of the text and the counter-argu­ments that follow.

(The group should be as usual divided into two parts, one part supporting the cause of the young and the\other that of the older generation.)

The young do not seek responsibility: they evade it.

They are not interested in important questions; avoid involve­ment: e.g. major political issues, etc.; they lack noble ideals.

They want expensive clothes, cars, etc. without working for them.

The young The Younger Generation Knows Best should be grateful to the older generation.

The older generation bequeathed peace and freedom which the young enjoy.

The older generation provides the young with good education, money to spend.

The older generation fought World War II, faced difficult, some­times tragic problems. The young have had everything easy.

The young cling to passing fashions: clothes, pop music, rock music. The modern phenomenon is mass hysteria.

Too much permissiveness leads to immorality when normal mor­al standards are labelled as "inhibitions".

Appearance of many young people is unpleasant: too long un­kempt hair, dirty clothes, unwashed bodies.

5. Tell the class what The Younger Generation Knows Best you think about the parent-child relationship. What should it be like? What is the way to achieve a perfect mutual understanding?


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