In these modern times there are many new electronic devices introduced almost daily. The pace of change has shifted into fast gear on all levels of our culture. This change happened so rapidly, that it seemed like it was allowing little time to evaluate the consequences of these devices. They have altered the way we interact with others. Presently we have the ability to communicate with people directly in any part of the world. Parents and their children are no longer involved in intimate exchanges where parents can instill necessary skills, attitudes and moral lessons of our culture and civil society.
Both are interacting mostly with their “friends” and not enough with each other. The adults and children’s differences are melting into each other. Our traditional moral values of following the Ten Commandments in the family and community have been swept away replaced by selfish ones. Accumulating and spending wealth has superseded doing what is right to others to create a wholesome environment. Exploiting of others to increase advantages by conniving, openly lying or cheating has become common.
As President Jack Kennedy stated during his 1961 inauguration speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Our current motto should be “what our country and others can do for me is all that counts.” These immature and shortsighted ideals are similar to a spoiled child who does not understand the long-range consequences of receiving everything they want without earning it. Too many young adults are shunning their responsibilities to becoming independent. Older adults are regressing to be like teenagers again. The benefits of maturing into an adult are not being demonstrated or taught. This leaves both children and adults confused about their roles in particular stages of the life cycle.
The youth culture has become the ideal for many Americans. Parents and even grandparents are doing everything to appear and act younger. Seen from the back the age of females cannot be distinguished by their dress. These days both the teenagers and older females have little difference in their styles. The child wants to look older and sexier while the supposed adult wants to appear younger and sexier. Young girls go through serious cosmetic surgery to transform their breasts and faces while the older person’s facial and body operations are done to appear more youthful.
Males are no different. Young teenage boys pump iron to build up their bodies to appear older while the older men wear their sports caps backwards, a trend started in prison by young punks, to appear “cool.” The casual dress of both is often indistinguishable along with their hairstyles. The desire for adults to appear youthful is blurring the visual difference of the aging process.
One of the most important changes that have taken place is our reverence for youth and rejection of the wisdom of elders. This drastic distortion of the natural process of maturing in order to be productive and successful is being forgotten. Adults have forgotten that superficial pleasure seeking; impulsive behavior has to be replaced by establishing a more disciplined lifestyle to meet long-range goals. The important stages of the life cycle are being rejected, as many adults are not willing to grow up. Wisdom has lost its value.
This lack of mature role modeling is negatively affecting the natural passing of the baton from one generation to another. Furthermore, it is lowering the standards and expectations of all our institutions since there are very few elders acting like adults. Many older citizens do not want to be seen as cranky, negative people by sharing their knowledge gained through experience. Instead many shortsighted adults are sharing the motto, “You only live once.” This means taking all the pleasure you can regardless of the long-term negative consequences for establishing a positive future. Adult role models should point out that living only in the present is a self-destructive strategy
Living for today and taking advantage of everybody else is a death sentence for a healthy society. When there are few elders willing to guide and direct our society towards a positive outcome then the nation is on a disastrous course.
Wisdom comes from learning, from confronting reality and conquering it not by burying one’s head in phony youthful excuses and unjustified arrogance. Adults need to be leaders again. Guiding our youth with wisdom, which will probably not win any favor with them but eventually will be followed as young people see its worth is a wonderful legacy.
Being labeled as an old fuddy-duddy in the short run is not attractive but eventually will win the appreciation and respect of reasonable people the adult has touched.
Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. Dr. Maglio is an author of weekly newspaper articles, INVASION WITHIN and a new just published book, entitled, IN CHARGE PARENTING In a PC World. You can visit Dr. Maglio at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com.