The conflict between the youth and the old is a perennial issue. It has been there in the society from the time immemorial, and it will be there for the ages to come. This issue is known as the generation gap.
The Youth Full of Life and Vigour:
The youth are full of life and vigour. They are burning with energy and high spirit. They are adventurous. They are bold enough to face any situation. They are always willing to take risks and meet tough challenges in life. They have never been calm and calculative in their life. Caution before embarking upon an unknown thing is not a part of their nature. They laugh at the aged who think calmly before they step into an action or reluctant to take any step that might harm them or bring them any risk.
The youth are always enterprising. They keep themselves engaged in pleasure-seeking pursuits, such as sports, adventures, thrills and acts of bravery. They are haste and rash in their actions. The aged, on the other hand, are very cautious, calculating, careful, tame and so timid. They think that haste makes waste; and one who acts in haste, in their opinion, is sure to repent of his actions at leisure. So they think it wise not to act in haste.
The Young Burning with Enthusiasm:
The young are always burning with enthusiasm. They are men of energy. They are ready to express their pent-up energy without any hesitation. They are never get exhausted. But the old, on the other hand, have very little surplus energy. And whatever energy they have, they prefer to conserve it rather use it carelessly. The elders' slow and calculative decisions or actions are always resented by the youth. The youth think that the elders are too old to take any useful decision and they are at the last stage of their life simply to seek retirement. They are considered old dried up streams or old trees, withered, unable to bear any fruit or leaves.
The Old is Weak and Cold:
The young are courageous and bold, but the old are weak and cold. So the old is considered useless, superfluous and an unwanted burden on the society. But the young are mistaken. The elders today were young in their time and have years of experience to their credit. And this has made them act calmly with every care. So after much reflection, they jump into a decision. This process of reflection usually takes time. But the young have no patience for this. They want prompt action which may result in acute suffering. They could certainly avoid this foolish result if they did not act in haste. It is, of course, true that some young people act like matured persons in the crisis, while some old people behave like fools and fail miserably. But this is only found in exceptional cases.
The youth hardly mend their ways. They reject all matured advice and even ridicule the elders' caution and consideration. They take the old for fossils and useless creatures, great obstacles to zestful living. It is, of course, true that the young, not the old, are the innovators. But today's youth grow old in years soon, and they are also considered useless by their old children. This cycle goes on without a break.
Still a Gap between the two Generations:
In spite of this truth, we always find a wide gulf between both the generations. Their very approach to a thing is different; they always think from different angles. Whatever the youth think of the aged is a mistake. Deep thinking is not an obstacle to progress; it rather helps prevent follies. But the young would not listen to the elders who are quite matured. The irony is one hardly learns from others' experiences. It is a general complaint from the young that the old consider them foolish, obstinate and inexperienced, forgetting that they were like them when they were young.
The young are spirited and adventurous. They would like to think freely and independently, and so differently from the elders. If they do not do this, our civilization will come to a halt. If they thought like their predecessors, they would make no progress. It is true that adventure always runs great risks; but without risks, no concrete progress is possible. The stories of great discoveries, inventions, and explorations are nothing but the stories of adventures and youthful spirits. The exploration of the South Pole, the conquest of Mount Everest or man's first landing on the moon is the outcome of the youthful spirit but not of the old age. Nothing ventured, nothing has', so runs the proverb. This is true for all times and all ages. So the old should not reject the youth calling then spirited fools. They should rather remember well Tennyson's famous line, 'Old order changeth yielding place to new,' and make way for the young to dash forward. They should instead inspire the young to go ahead and explore new things for the benefit of humanity. They have got their wisdom, knowledge, and experience, which they can pass on to the young and watch how they are being used by the promising young people who have a lot of time, energy, and spirit at their disposal. Cooperation and showing respect to the views of each other will undoubtedly lessen the generation gap and make this world a better home.
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