It has been rightly said that we spend the first half of our lives trying to understand the older generation, and the rest half in understanding the younger generation. Every age has its own charm. Youth has always felt somewhat exasperated with age and age has always been suspicious of youth. With their natural ebullience and impatience, a majority of young people are keen to act and learn on their own rather being guided by the experience of elders. The older people being more at home with words rather than action often make noises about the youth being impatient and rude. In every generation, old men are found to shaking their hoary heads and waxing nostalgic about the good old days when youth of their time knew better and showed due reverence to age and tradition.
Some of the charges brought against modern youth are that they represent a rudderless generation without any ideals to live by or cause to live for. They are afflicted with compulsive irreverence which manifests itself in increasing defiance of parental authority and revolt against established social norms. On the slightest pretext they take to streets, indulging in violence. They want to attract attention through unconventional behavior. They are becoming a generation of drug addicts and have developed an aversion to honest hard work, ever on the look out to have something for nothing. Its no longer anxious youth going forth, into a hostile world. Now its hostile youth going forth into an anxious world this is not sure what to expect from it.
If we come to think about it, it is not only the youth which is restless, human society itself is in a state of flux. Growing affluence in developed societies has generated among the youth there a restlessness which pined for instant rewards. The children get all the money they need from parents and seldom face the need to work for a living. In the under developed countries also, young generation are feeling disgruntled because their visions of a happy future are being obliterated either by internal strife or political opportunism. This provokes the youth to protest against rampant corruption in society and the denial of social justice.
In the circumstances, is it to be wondered at if all talk of dedication to ideals, renewed moral vigor and basic virtues leaves the youth cold and unconvinced? They are no longer prepared to blindly accept whatever their elders choose to ram down their throats. They are prone to subject to critical review all the social and political values they are called upon to accept. When they se high sounding principles invariably being ignored for expediency, political leaders deliberately hoodwinking the masses, vested interests being allowed to frustrate the state of every step, corruption common in high places and other gaping differences between promise and performance, they naturally become cynical and clamor for change.
Students form a very important group among the youth of all nations. Their biggest and most legitimate grievance is that what they learn after putting so much time, effort and money has very little relevance to the realities of life with which they come face to face after leaving the university. It is but natural that they should want to have a say in determining what should be taught so that it has some relevance to their future. They would no longer tolerate politickers veiled as teachers. They consider themselves quite capable of looking after themselves.
If we look at youth today in the light of foregoing, it will be apparent that it’s not the young alone who are to blame for the state of mind in which we find them. They may well be charged with being ignorance of what they want. Theirs is a movement of protest against hypocrisy and lack of integrity in their elders. Evidently, this concern for the future and this anxiety to rescue life from hypocrisy is very laudable indeed. But it cannot be said that the young are all the time guided by such high purpose. Dissent is required in fact obligatory when things go wrong. Violence comes natural to youth. The young, supremely sure that the authority against which they are up in arms is unjust and oppressive and feeling cretin of the correctness of their own stand, react emotionally. The intensity of their feelings is such that it fills them with hatred and they turn to violence.
On the whole, the younger generation today is much misunderstood and more maligned than it deserves. The world which it is going to inherit will be immensely more exciting than the world of its predecessors ever was or could be. At the same time, life will present to it a much bigger and far more complex challenge. It would not do to condemn it and find fault with it that is easy enough. What is really important is that it is treated with understanding so that it can develop to faculties to reshape the world it is going to inherit in accordance with its noblest vision.