“The world is passing through troublesome times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they know everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.”
The 90’s? The 60’s? Maybe earlier, like somewhere in the late 1800’s? Actually, this quote comes from a sermon by Peter the Hermit that was written in the late 13th century.
Living a little over the halfway point in my 40’s, I’ve noticed that people like to talk about “kids these days” and “how bad this world is getting,” and I have to wonder, Do any of us really believe this? Obviously, the idea of teenagers being disrespectful, lazy, and/or self-absorbed is barely an original thought. People who talk about “the good ol’ days,” or “simpler times” will be quick to criticize teenagers today but conveniently forget the vices and pitfalls they experienced as youth.
I love what I heard a stand up comedian say on Night at the Improv back in the 80’s. Speaking for his (and my) generation, he asked, “What on earth could we possibly say to our children about how bad we had it? We’re spoiled!” then he added in a mock voice, “Son, when I was your age we DROVE to school! And we appreciated it!
The fact is, every generation likes to criticize the younger ones. Whether it’s their dress, their music, their devices, their hair… we talk about these trends as if this new brand of child has been tainted and that they will destroy themselves and everyone around them.
“The ME generation.” I remember this term being used to describe Baby Boomers. And just a handful of years later I heard it used referring to GenXers. Some historians have attached the name to the folks living in the “roaring 20’s.” And it sounds like Peter the Hermit would’ve called those darn ol’ 1200’s teens the same thing.
But I don’t believe it. The kids of “these days” (or my personal favourite, the kids “of this dain-age”) are… well… they’re kids. They’re a different generation; therefore, they will have different values, different perspectives, and different ideas. If the hippies didn’t destroy us, I’m sure these kids won’t either. Yes, we can respect what the builder generation went through, especially the Great Depression and WWII, but they had their own problems. And we don’t remember much of what their parents had to say about them, but seeing as history keeps repeating themselves, I’m sure they would say the things that we and Peter the Hermit have said. Besides, can we really refer to anything in our culture today as proof that the world is “getting really bad” that can compare to the Holocaust or the Vietnam war?
If there’s anything we can learn from The Breakfast Club, it’s that we need to try to listen more and seek to understand. They are different from us, pure and simple. As Bob Dylan put it:
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
Congratulations The Breakfast Club. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actor: Al Pacino as Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon.
Best Quote: Juror #7: “You a Yankee fan?” Juror #5: “No, Baltimore.” Juror #7: “Baltimore? That’s like being hit in the head with a crowbar once a day.” — 12 Angry Men
Speaking of 12 Angry Men, if you want to see an old movie that was ahead of its time, watch this one. It’s statements about life, death, racism, and justice translates to today better than just about any other movie I can think of. Not only that, it breaks all the rules concerning cinema and keeping viewers’ attention, yet it will hold your attention from beginning to end.
By the way, the title of this post is a quote from It’s a Wonderful Life. As good of a movie as it is, this is one of the worst movie quotes ever.