“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
The man who said these things about the youth of his era lived four centuries before Jesus’ birth.
Socrates was one of those great Greek classical philosophers and thinkers whose words live for eternity. So, too, do his concerns about youth.
I think of these words when I hear people disparage today’s younger generation. I think of them knowing that Socrates felt this way long before the world was introduced to the teachings of those we follow today.
I have begun looking once again at a volume I’ve cherished for many years. “The Greatest Generation,” written by broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw, tells of the heroism of those who fought during World War II, returned home build their lives and in the process build the mightiest nation the world has ever seen.
Yes, they were great men and women. But they’ve been followed by other great generations, too. Men and women who sacrificed for their country. Many paid the ultimate price. Others came home and, by golly, built their own lives and continued the work started by many millions of others who came before them.
And all the while they have griped out loud about the youth of their era. They wonder whether civilization as they know it will survive those who “tyrannize their teachers,” or those who “contradict their parents” or “gobble up dainties at the table.”
I am supremely confident civilization as we know it will survive. Indeed, it might even become even better than what we know today.
My sense is that Socrates might have known that to be the case when he offered the quotation attributed to him back in the day.