Socrates said, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”
When it comes to the continual put down of young people this quote shows that not much has changed since 399 BCE. As a teacher of over forty years my experience has for the vast majority of times been the complete opposite to Socrates. For the minority of times where authority and the wisdom of the status quo is challenged I have always seen this as healthy and normal, part of the rhythm and renewal of things. It was something I did myself when I was young. As for bad manners and disrespect, of course young people indulge in this sort of behaviour - so do adults, we aren't that much different in that regard. Anyway here's a little story about thoughtfulness and good manners that I experienced recently.
Last week as I walked into the lounge I met Jorit a young German tourist who was tapping on the window. Jorit had just visited Abbey Caves, a tourist destination not far from our house. He had hitch hiked to the caves in a silver Toyota driven by someone who lived in the area who looked about 70 years of age and had spent 7 years living in the Jersey Islands - this being the sum total of information he had gleaned. Jorit had lost his cellphone and thought he probably lost it in the elderly gentlemans car. Jorit wanted to know if I knew this man. I didn't, but I gave Jorit some simple logical advice that anyone else in the situation would have given, showed some interest in his travels around New Zealand, wrote down his email address, wished him luck in his search and sent him on his way.
The next day I found this on the doorstep:
The message says:
"Thank you! Because of your help I got back my phone, so this is a little present to say thank you! I hope you enjoy this bottle of my favourite German beer."
Jorit must have gone to some trouble to deliver this to my door, considering he had to hitch hike to Abbey Caves.
I emailed Jorit and thanked him for his thoughtfulness. So Socrates you miserable old curmudgeon, don't ever tell me that all young people have bad manners and show disrespect for their elders; generalizations are the great mistakes of philosophical argument.
..... and by the way, the German Beer was absolutely great!