There's a saying that "youth is wasted on the young", but when i look at my Facebook people and pages i'm not so sure that's true. Yes, the young rattle cages and question everything but that's the job description, it's what they are created to do and if they didn't live up to the challenge we would still be trying to use square wheels and wondering whether cooked meat would taste any better than rare rabbit and if so how to create fire.
In the olden days when i was young....ish and a bookshop owner some arcane turn of the universe turned our biz into "the place to be" for training volunteer youngsters. in the nine years we were open dozens of gangly guys and ditzy dolls arrived for their job experience fortnight and stayed till the workforce or uni claimed them three years later. the one thing they all had in common was a drive to change their world, to make it a better place to hang their hats, a planet worthy of their presence.
Many of them went on to study or build a career in caring, teaching, medicine, renewables, social work, and there they are on Facebook, young adults now, some with babes of their own, and they are still attending anti fascist rallies, building wind turbines, teaching the next batch of kiddlies, signing petitions and pushing, pushing, pushing, always pushing for things to be better, for the world to live up to their expectations and hopes.
Where did us oldies lose the plot? when did we lose that drive to agitate, to hold our government and business up to inspection and accountability, to question EVERYTHING? is it inevitable that our dreams and ideals decay and die along with our cells, living on only as fragments in the DNA of those who come after?
Perhaps we run out of strength to fight for the future once jobs and children or advancing age have claimed their share of our finite reserves of energy, or maybe we allow ourselves to be diverted into inertia by the seemingly endless parade of injustice and evil we see in the media. those who work among the most impoverished are known to suffer from 'compassion fatigue', a numbing of the natural feelings of horror and outrage at the worst injustices we inflict upon each other. perhaps those of us on the sidelines, experience 'petition fatigue' when faced daily with yet another 'urgent' demand for support, so we mindlessly click the button to add our name to a list without engaging our emotions with the reality of people's lives that seem so far removed from our reality.
I am challenged by one lovely girly in my life who is shaving her hair in support of Macmillan cancer charity's Brave The Shave. i'm delighted to sponsor her and hope she reaches her target donations (look on my Facebook page if you would like to back her) but, would i join her and shed my tresses..........? i might have when i was her age, but now............? would you...........?
Next time you see a shaven headed teen on the bus take a moment to inspect your spontaneous reaction.......did you think chav ?........did you instinctively hold your wallet a little tighter ?..........or did you think 'good for you' young activist for doing your part ?
My days of actively working to change the world are behind me now and i miss the challenge. but it's comforting to know those bar shaking, stubble headed, campaigning, marching, protesting, world changing young ones are out there continuing the work..........no, life isn't wasted on the young if the one's i know are typical.