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Jun 8th 2016

Winner's essay: What Can Older People Learn from Your Generation

Ellie Ivarsson, Sweden

First place in EssayMama Spring Essay Writing Contest 2016

With the development of technology and the changed social conditions, the puberty occurs much earlier and we notice that younger generations are growing fast-forward. Parents are providing better living conditions and buy everything their children need, but they are also neglecting them for the sake of making more money. They are trying to make up for the lost time by buying new gadgets for their kids. Today, young generations get everything served on a tray. They are constantly facing stress, and negative information is not hidden from them. It seems like things have changed, but I don't think that is the case. I am at college now, but I can't say that the conditions today's children grow up in are much different than the ones I had as a kid. The values of the system are the same: everyone joins the race for money, which reflects on people's characters. To me, today's youth is not worse than previous generations. It's just different. When older people abandon their prejudices and observe us with respect, they can learn valuable lessons from us: courage, strength, intelligence, individuality, and persistence.

I have the impression that older people don't like us. Above all, they see us as an unmannerly generation. That may be true to some extent, maybe because we don't follow the rigid norms and etiquette of the past. We are free to communicate our ideas with passion and humor. Instead of the ordinary good morning, we salute each other with slang and jokes. Our professors perceive this behavior as brazen, uncultured, simply rude and shameless. When they were younger, they used to run away and hide in their homes when they faced an older person. Today, we have the courage to stand up for ourselves. That's the first thing older generations can learn from us - we are courageous! I have noticed that my friends are always ready to stand against social injustice. They have the power to change the world, just because they believe in themselves. We are not going to bend our spines when people and governments try to put us in a mold. Revolutions have always been started by the youth. It seems people's resistance slowly succumbs as they grow older. We won't teach them anything new; we'll just remind them of the courage they once used to have. Without rebels, this world would be a boring place to live in.

When society is stagnating, the youth is expected to do something to change the dreaded paralysis where we all sing together. People from older generations become conformists and they tend to accept the regressive ruling matrices. They are trying to fit into the order as inconspicuously as possible, and that's the reason why they perceive the culture of the youth as something outrageous. Yes, we rushed to grow up. We abandoned our toys too early and we discovered makeup, high heels, rock music, and relationships all too soon. Yes, we could have stayed in childhood just a bit longer, but who is to blame for that? We were raised by our parents and grandparents - the same ones who are now discussed by our culture. They were the ones who were always concerned about money, so they had no time to spend with us and they left us at the mercy of TV shows. They chose to collapse in the wells of their own impotence. Maybe we will be the same when we grow old. For now, I know that we are not giving up. We have the strength that keeps our society moving forward.

As Camille Paglia said, Rousseau invented the modern cult of childhood, and Goethe made Rousseau's capricious adolescent popular. But it was Byron who created the glamorous youth with defiant energy. Byron understood the essential characteristic of the youth: it's the urge to spread their wings and express the contempt they have for the surface. It seems like older generations refuse to see the enthusiasm in us, so only they see the characteristic that's not as widespread as they think it is: nihilism. Yes, we are all about living the present as intensely as possible, but we are not neglecting the moral principles that constitute our society. If older generations show respect for our culture and they merge with young people, they can learn the most important lesson: individuality matters. There is no point in abandoning your own personality when you grow old.

What about the dreams you all used to have? You used to belong to progressive youth in your own time. Why are you trying to neglect progress today? If we considered the judgmental opinions of old generations throughout history, we would come to a single conclusion: people have always been living in a decaying age. Young people have always been considered as disrespectful, impatient, and rude. However, when we observe history from today's point of view, we see the progress, which is a force that's always driven by youth. It's time for older people to understand: my generation is strong and independent. We have the intelligence, strength, and all tools we need to make the changes this world needs. We hope that our passion, dedication, skill, kindness, curiosity, and hard work won't be a torn page in history, but will become important features of this generation that will change this tired country. We are the faces of the future, and we have the potential to make it better!

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