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The fresh and the old must meet

It has been expressed again and again, more often by the younger minds themselves, that the older of us Barbadians really ought to step aside and let the youth run things. Some argue they couldn’t do any worse than some of the older heads who have got the place in a mess anyhow.

There might be some merit in the contention; but it ought not to be wallowed in, under the misguided notion that the ruling ostensible literati who present themselves in the Press, on radio and TV and in political hustings are the best we have of the mature lot. Many of this group, regrettably, ride on the latest buzzword out of North America and Europe, and blindly with the latest so-called social advancements that are, at best, fads of questionable lifestyles.

Not that younger minds might not so equally be influenced and persuaded –– given their obsession with what they term fresh and forward ideas that would be mostly experimental and hardly, these days, grounded in ethical and moral values. It isn’t for lack of older folks’ understanding that youths would have their way if you let them, that they get it anyhow –– and even more and more in these increasingly liberal times.

It was former United States’ President Harry Truman who once wryly declared that he had found the best way we could give advice to youths.

“Find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”

It would be no understatement that a growing number of Barbadian parents have literally taken this position to heart. It beats taking a position and standing firmly on any principle of value for the child’s long-term well-being. It is of little concern to them that Mr Truman was speaking tongue in cheek.

The advocates of youth power, who actually believe they have a more influential voice, spare no effort hurling around their weight; and politicians fall for it –– for the vote –– and sometimes are crushed by it.

We are not, of course, suggesting that our youth should be seen and not heard. Dialogue is everything, and welcome; and the generations must communicate. The one learns where not to place its feet; the other grasps a new step.

That a people must see a number of sunrises and sunsets, and many moons, to have worthy opinions is not to be dismissed. Experience as a critical ingredient to the sustainable growth of a country is not to be pooh-poohed.

Yes, young or old can have an opinion or idea. But opinions and ideas are of little worth if they are not informed by, or are not bosom friends of, knowledge and experience. And much of these comes by the sunrises and the sunsets, and the many moons.

We do our youth and our older generation a great disservice when we postulate that our younger minds are the answers to all our challenges; and that old and tried values life’s are all but ready for extinction in this age of cyber-input. After all, the rashness and exuberance of youth soon mellow. We know this by the sunrises and sunsets, and many moons.

The balance really is in fantasy author J.K. Rowling’s observation that “youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young”.

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