Publicador de contenidos

Back to 2016_01_07_EDU_mitificacion

Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.

Mitigation of youth and its consequences

Thu, 07 Jan 2016 16:26:00 +0000 Posted in Today Extremadura

Whoever is between 17 and 25 years old today is "in luck". For that reason alone, they will be admired, excused and even imitated by those who are fascinated by that stage of life. For example, when a young person gets drunk in public, it is not uncommon for a sympathetic and tolerant adult to comment with a knowing gesture: "That's funny! This tolerance usually disappears when the drunkard is older.

Thibon states that in today's society "youth is seen as the supreme or sole criterion of all value, in such a way that the other ages of life have no right to existence and consideration except on condition that they are clothed with that springtime mark (...) Maturity and old age are erased at the stroke of a pen".

Other authors maintain that it is a historical return to the ephebolatry era. Ephebo is a Greek word meaning adolescent. In Ancient Greece there was the cult of the ephebo, which applied to males from the age of 15 to 18, an age at which special aptitudes were attributed worthy of being harnessed in the ephebeia, an institution for training future citizens, which included training in the arts of war). An ephebeia was also a sculpture modality representing a naked young male of great physical beauty. This second meaning is not the one I am attributing to today's youth worshippers.

The new fashion of ephebolatry is based on the belief that it is enough to be young to possess all the values, without the need to cultivate them previously. The popular expression "youth is always right" responds to this mentality.

 In my opinion, this blindness cannot be attributed to a supposed seductive capacity of young people; it is rather a fabulation of adults nostalgic for a lost paradise where the sweet bird of youth nested. When some of them manage to remove the blindfold, they discover their past errors of appreciation: "We have deified young people for the mere fact of being young, and not for developing the sublime virtues of youth: illusion, generosity, solidarity, justice, the desire for perfection, the dream of a better world" (J. Capmany, 1995).

The current ephebolatry "consists in pretending to understand the world or the culture of young people as if they were a tribe, a race apart. This is not the case. As much as the age factor is decisive, the status of young people is unstable. They are so until they cease to be so" (De Miguel, A.: Los jóvenes y los valores, 1994).

Young people who feel flattered simply because of their age, (regardless of their behavior), tend to develop conformist and narcissistic attitudes; on the other hand, those who have the opportunity to know in time what is the true mission statement of youth tend to assume it as a challenge staff . For Paul Claudel "youth was not made for pleasure, but for heroism".

There are those who flatter young people for a more prosaic reason: to do business with them. Youth is a article that currently sells very well, both to young people and to those who are not resigned to stop being young. In every department store there is a "youth section", where you can buy clothes, shoes, music and young literature. In addition, most TV commercials are starring young people.

To systematically praise young people and grant them privileges with no other merit than their age, does not predispose them to elaborate a vital project . If being young is so perfect and has so many advantages, why should we insist on being something else? Why should we build something as uncertain and problematic as the future?

What young people need is not more facilities to access greater welfare, since that would keep them in a superficial and mediocre state of life. They need to be encouraged to go to the root of every issue and to seek excellence in everything.

Plato explained that the juvenile stage is not a time for idleness and self-indulgence, but for intellectual and moral gymnastics: "Beautiful and divine is the fiery impetus which throws you into the reasons of things; but exercise and train yourself in these exercises which are apparently of no use and which the vulgar call subtle palaver, while you are still young; otherwise, the truth will slip through your fingers". (Parmenides, 135 d)