EDITORIAL – Forever the young and the old
Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own. – Sydney J. Harris, American journalist (1917-1986)FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN, typical politician that he was, once declared that he had found the best way we could give advice to our children.“Find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” We daresay Minister of Family and Youth Affairs Stephen Lashley is not of this view. And if he assuredly isn’t, then he needs to steer the fashioners of the National Youth Policy as far away as possible from this mindset.We cannot help but notice an arrogance already – and there is not even a National Youth Policy in place yet.We are still to hear of recommendations or pledges of self-upliftment of any note outside the political posturing – but we have edicts.The Barbados Community College guild president Damani Parris, who actually believes that young people only now have “an influential voice”, spared no effort hurling them.“Some [the older folks, we take it] are afraid of ulterior motives, while others are simply intent on keeping youth seen and not heard,” he says.Well, excuse us! The feelings, expressions and rantings of our youth on Barbados radio have been for some time as consistent as the vuvuzela was at Word Cup football.Says Master Damani: “This mentality must die [and it was to have done so on the evening of the National Youth Forum launch]. It must go, in the name of sustainable development. It must go so that the youth must grow.“The thought that one had to see a certain number of sunrises and sunsets in order to have an opinion . . . and be able to contribute to growth of a country is outdated and suggests ignorance.”Truth be told, anyone can have an opinion. But opinions are of little worth if they are not informed by or are bosom friends of knowledge and experience. And much of these comes by the sunrises and the sunsets – and the many moons.We will be doing our youth a great disservice if we lead them to believe that this National Youth Policy will be the reformation of all reformations; that their challenges and troubles along life’s course will be so different merely by their input. It will be an outlandish promise that cannot be fulfilled.Even so, the exuberance of youth soon mellows. We know this by the sunrises and sunsets.We are all reminded by the fantasy author J.K. Rowling that “youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young”. And therein lies the rub.