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

What it is and what it is not to be young

Sun, 10 Apr 2016 15:49:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Some of today's teenagers and young people are regular news in the media, but not for their achievements and exploits, but for the events they are involved in during their nightlife. Rare is the day when we are not informed of serious accidents on the road, due to alcoholism or drug overdose.

This subject of news was not so frequent before the French May 68. The latter event marks the passage from modernism as a sociocultural movement to the subculture of postmodernism, which emerged after the disenchantment experienced by young people in an excessively rationalized and bureaucratized society. 

Postmodernism is a hedonistic and consumerist subculture in which reason was replaced by desire. This caused a drift in the way of understanding and living adolescence and youth, which became empty of values. They were replaced by the pseudo-values of carpe diem (seize the moment to enjoy the maximum of sensible pleasure) realistically described by Juan Angel Mañas in "Historias del Kronen" (1994). 

This novelized story recounts the night life of a group of young, violent, alcohol and drug addicted young people from Madrid, group . They suffer an unresolved identity crisis at the time.

Many of these young people neither study nor work; nor do they intend to do so in the future. This is the Nini generation, which is widespread in many countries. It is one of the favorite themes of cartoonists, who depict it in their cartoons. For example, in one of two sequences:

1 (A young man collapsed on a sofa) NINI: young man who neither studies nor works; 

2 (an adult with a homeless look is observed): NININI: neither studying, nor working, nor young.

THE way of life of these young people is at the antipodes of authentic youth. Problems arose when young people gave up being rebels to fall into conformism (Castillo, G.; Adolescence. Myths and enigmas, 2016).

Today it is urgent to recover the authentic notion of youth, in order to serve as reference letter to those who call themselves true young people without being so.

Youth is not simply a stage of a person's biopsychological development ; it is above all a value that is outside of time. Youth is a virtue without age (M. Pascua, 1986). Let us look at some aspects of the value of youth.

To be young is to have the attitude of wonder and admiration in the face of the problems and mysteries that life presents us with every day. It is not to get used to it, not to make of existence a routine task; it is a disposition to grasp the new and to give more of oneself. In the Portuguese language young people are "os novos".

To be young is to have a heart inclined towards great things: truth, justice, love, liberty, etc. It is to have ideals that attract by their nobility and beauty and invite us to forget about ourselves in order to care for others. A good example is that of those who, during their vacations, collaborate in the work of volunteer activities.

 Some young people confuse ideals with goals. To obtain the degree scroll of doctor is a goal; to wish to practice medicine as a generous response to a vocational call of service, is an ideal.

To be young is to have hope. Along with hope as a theological virtue is hope as a human virtue. To hope is to live in anticipation of something that is good and that I do not yet have.

To be young is to be willing to take risks, not just for anything, but for what is worthwhile. It is beautiful to take risks in the name of freedom, but not to satisfy a whim.

To be young is to have a heart, to avoid the cold calculation of the old man. The young man does not live in order to save his energies, but on the contrary, he is capable of squandering them in order to help others.

To be young is to have a thirst for knowledge. When someone starts to say that he is already over everything and stops listening and reading, he is getting old. The desire to know is linked to the ability to learn, which is highly developed in children, but is often lost with age.

To be young is to have projects, without being trapped by the immediate. It is to want to live in a certain way and to fight to achieve it.

To be young is to be rebellious in terms of values. In a consumerist and hedonistic environment, the best form of rebellion is the virtue of temperance.