“At a certain point in American life, the young ceased to be viewed as a transient class and youth as a phase of life through which everyone soon passed. Instead, youthfulness was vaunted and carried a special moral status. Adolescence triumphed, becoming a permanent condition.”
So writes Joseph Epstein in a witty and now-classic article that is even timelier than in 2004, when it was first published. In our tastes and values, in our political opinions and our moral judgments, in our cynical or ironic or frivolous approach to serious matters, we cling desperately to a fading semblance of youth and a fondness for its follies.
But we live in a time that calls for mature and balanced judgment, for the wisdom that the ancients knew comes only from those situations in which we take life seriously and put ourselves on the line, drawing as best we can upon the counsel of our own elders and the inimitable Wisdom of a Fatherly God.
Meanwhile, our own children search in vain for adults, for actual grown-ups who will lead them and give them a direction in life, seeking instead in popular messiahs and social media chatter what their parent-pals, still pursuing their adolescence, have withheld from them—only to learn too late the advice of Ecclesiastes (7:5) that it would have been “better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.”