Under the Black Flag

Wasted Youth

A wise man recently said:

Our youth love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders, and no longer rise when a lady enters the room. They chatter instead of exercising, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

That was Socrates, 2000 years ago, which I suppose qualifies as recent in the great scheme of history. The French would say, “Plus ça change;” I say, “What else is new?”

Good old Socrates. I wonder what he would say about today’s “trigger warnings” alerting students to upsetting content. In Norman Mailer’s explosive 1965 novel An American Dream, decorated war hero Stephen Rojack kills his wife by throwing her off the roof, buggers the maid, then goes out on the town looking for action. That narrative would send young people today on a tailspin—and that’s only Mailer. Just think what Shakespeare, Marlowe, or the Russians would do to their vulnerable psyches.

Although not of the same sexual persuasion as the great Oscar Wilde, I agree with the saying sometimes attributed to him, “It’s a pity that youth is wasted on the young.” Admittedly, I am an oldie who grew up during World War II, endured nightly Allied bombing raids, and witnessed a savage civil war. Trigger warnings were the last thing on my four-year-old mind. Dodging...

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