Against “Anti-youthism”

Emanuel Pastreich
December 1, 2012

Against “Anti-youthism”

There is an elephant in the room that most people want to ignore. It is the biggest news around, but no one takes it seriously.

We talk about racism, sexism and anti-gay sentiments, but there is something at least as serious out there that has no name. I struggle to come up with a term. Let us call it “anti-youthism”.

We find in many societies an almost pathological inability to take youth seriously, to have young people there at the table in the serious discussion of policy or to take their interests into consideration when planning for the future. So many would rather slash education budgets to maintain benefits for the retired. They live out their golden years  without concern for how the next generation will survive in this world of radical climate change. Such respectable figures of authority think  more about their retirement accounts than about their young employees careers, or even about their own children’s futures.

And I do not want to tell you have many educated, comfortable seniors have said to me, “Well I really do not have to worry about that. I will be gone by then.”

But this cruel indifference to the fate of our children, of the young people who struggle to find meaningful jobs while others think there is nothing wrong with pushing the limits of how long they can stay in their positions, this is wrong.

Youth, children, are our future and they matter far more than we do.

I should not lecture youth about what they should do (although I do anyway–that is an occupational liability of being a professor) I should listen to what they need and do my best to help. We should have seminars at think tanks about this crisis. But I have never seen one.

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