Frequently, we adults are shaking our head and muttering about the state of childhood, as child behavior can “pluck our last nerves,” as the saying goes.
Collectively, we “tut-tut” and wonder how it’s all unraveling around us, with everything going into a horrific state of decline and decay.
You know how it goes. Kids are seen behaving a certain way and there is head shaking and wondering, “What’s the matter with kids these days? What’s going on with their parents?”
Apparently Hesiod, the Greek poet who was a contemporary of Homer around 770 BC, was shaking his head too with his friends and acquaintances, as he noted, “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise (rude) and impatient of restraint.”
Some hundreds of years before Hesiod, Plato while sitting at the feet of Socrates, was “tut-tutting,” with similar head shaking, speculating, “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law and riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
Moving up to the more modern era of the late 1200’s, there was considerable anguish expressed by Peter the Hermit, as he opined, “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladly like in speech, behavior and dress.” (Wait, how does a hermit know about these things?)
Even some 8,000 years ago adults were shaking their head while writing graffiti on an Egyptian tomb – “We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control.” (Who knew there was underage drinking going on 8,000 or so years ago? Taverns?)
Who knows? It’s probably the dance we do, that we have been doing for some 8,000 years.
My guess is there is a form of collective amnesia within each generation, that gets worse the older we get, where we puff up how we believe we were different as kids with the manners and respect that we showed our elders, not like the current generation.
I, for one, was part of a pretty scruffy, disrespectful generation that held a big middle finger out to society and the older generation.
I’m sure there was a great deal of head-shaking that went on then then, as parents and grandparents looked out at the decaying age they were living in with all of the hippies running amuck with their awful ear-splitting music.
I’m sure their nerves were plucked plenty.
All I can think of is the Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime,” reminding us, “Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was.”