Old heads on young shoulders

There are many adages from a by-gone era that need to be resurrected for the benefit of today’s youth.

One is that “you cannot put an old head on young shoulders”.

The cult of youth and the pandering to youth and their opinions, on the principle that they are the leaders of tomorrow, has a flaw in it. Truly, they will be the next generation but that does not prove that we should pander to them. Rather we should educate them because, by definition, young people have not yet attained to a balanced view of life in order to suggest solutions. This lack of balance can produce cultural vandals vying for attention.

The young

The youth of today are being short-changed. They are living in fear of climate change and nuclear war. Our educational system fails them, teaching them grievance and fear, while failing to teach them Christian hope and self-worth, leading to mental health issues of anxiety and depression.

Older readers may remember the following adages that we were taught when we were young but I challenge you to find them repeated in public life at present. Since beginning this list, I have added a few useful ones which may occasionally crop up in public discourse.

  1. Look before you leap.
  2. Count to ten.
  3. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.
  4. Don’t believe everything you read in newspapers (useful for social media).
  5. All that glitters is not gold (useful for our celebrity culture).
  6. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing (particularly relevant to the young).
  7. You are just a poor loser.
  8. Let bygones be bygones (could be useful for cancel culture).
  9. Live and let live (useful for woke supporters).
  10. Out of sight, out of mind (could be useful for cancel culture).
  11. You can please some people some of the time but not all the people all of the time.
  12. He is a Jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
  13. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”, is not true but it is useful for introducing perspective to young people’s thinking.
  14. You won’t miss the water till the well runs dry (about lack of foresight, very common in political circles where short-termism prevails Pro 22:3 and Pro 27:12).
  15. There are none so blind as those who will not see (prejudicial closing of one’s mind to unwanted information).
  16. “If the cap fits, then wear it.”
    • Some useful ones that occasionally crop up.
  17. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
  18. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
  19. It is not what you know that matters, but whom you know.
  20. It is not only who you are but what you stand for that counts.

Aesop’s Fables are probably not politically correct by today’s opinions, along with multitudes of earlier authors who are cancelled by this ‘woke’ generation, so that the collective wisdom of the ages is not available to our rising generation. A whole generation of youth would do well to learn about The Boy who Cried Wolf, The Hare and the Tortoise, and many other examples of ancient wisdom. “Let not him that puts on his armour boast like he that takes it off” 1K 20:11.

In debate, one should pay attention not only to what a person says but also to what they do not say. However, this requires a broad knowledge of a subject, showing why a young person’s opinion is likely to be unbalanced and why one needs to become a zugologist.

As for decision-makers, whether they are politicians or whatever, newbies need to learn quickly about unintended consequences, the most recent example being Kwazi Kwarteng’s ‘mini’-budget, which had the unintended consequence of his being sacked as the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer for not foreseeing the unintended consequences in the market.


9 Nov 2021: Jordan Peterson blames the Universities.

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