It seems to me that when we are young we lack wisdom. We may have great intelligence but we lack wisdom. Later, when we have gained life experience, we gain wisdom. Keeping this thought in mind, remember the old saw, “Those who are not liberals at seventeen have no heart. Those who are not conservative at fifty have no brains.”
Some people have a natural affinity for philosophical introspection. But no matter how well suited a person is to gain wisdom they must hone it with life experiences. It is the very things in life that vex and bore us that we extract wisdom from.
Children are a great source of wisdom for parents. Children demand a great deal of time and energy. Giving this much time and energy to rear a child gives us insight into many things that we may have never thought of before. When we lose a parent we have access to a font of wisdom. Great loss, and the grief that goes with it, give us insight into life and death. Something a child has no real notion of.
Books are another place to find wisdom. Socrates and Confucius were teachers of profound wisdom. They had such power in personality their philosophy was recorded for them. They have left us no records by their hands. Yet the wisdom they taught was so revered that others thought to record them for posterity. We have access to their great wisdom through these books.
Socrates and Confucius were also men of great age. Socrates was over seventy when he was ordered executed by the democratic process. Confucius was over eighty when he died. They didn’t really get underway philosophically until they were over fifty. Socrates said in the Phaedo that he as a youth liked the sciences. But as he grew older he grew to understand that the sciences could not be reasoned out in the year 500 BC. But if he followed a philosophy that asked, and tried to answer, the great questions of mankind, he had a better chance. They both had the benefit of many years of contemplation to hone their philosophies. A child, no matter the prodigy, doesn’t have that advantage.
The Nazi’s knew this. It was the youth they went after. College students were given propaganda films to watch. Films that would show people with profound mental and physical deformities. They would be shown as caricatures and with the correct music to set the mood.
Then the students would be asked, “would you want to be forced to live this way?” Upper middle class youth, who have never actually had a real hard time and enamored with appearances, all agreed, “Yes, I would rather die.” The result was the extermination of everyone in the asylums. Some people (children) were dragged out kicking and screaming then shot in the head. It is history. Read it.
Young people can be convinced of almost anything. Their gullibility is our undoing. When the youth of any nation or country mass and get behind a political movement it always ends badly for them and society. History gives us many examples of this. But none that confound. The Communists came to power or were largely backed in every case by the youth. The National Socialist movement was ushered in by angry youths that had been hopped up on patriotism. Mao, Che and Castro all praised the willingness of youth to do violence. The drug the would be dictator uses is not of consequence. The end is. Tyranny.
That is why when I see a political movement largely backed by upper middle class youth… I shudder. Today the PBS news cast of the McNeil Lehrer Hour had an item about the latest American generation. Gen Next was the appellation used. They are largely liberal according to a new poll. They were also credited with voting the present administration into office. The unbiased newscasters were positively giddy with the news.
What the unbiased newscasters failed to realize is that people, especially upper middle class youths, are intelligent, free willed, self maximizes. We all learn quickly. Gen nexters are no different. They will quickly become more conservative/ libertarian as they gain life experience. This is as inevitable as that young people always poll more liberal than older people. The question is only, when will a given person mature enough, to realize the truth…