Many of you will have heard the term ageism – the stereotyping and/or discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. But this term is usually associated with older adults, like me. Adultism is a relatively new term. I only heard it about a year ago. Adultism, while technically encompassed in that broader definition of ageism, focuses on the accepted belief that ‘young people don’t know anything.’ Spend half an hour talking to our youth, yes, even the ‘hoodies, especially them, and you will discover the exact opposite. Our young people are turned on and tuned in in a way that is remarkable. I’d personally rather spend my time talking with them than most ‘adults.’ They understand what the true stakes are.
Of course, as I point out to @PanKwake, my optimism is guarded. The hippies, perhaps the last time that we saw just an amazing array of mental and spiritual drive from young people, ‘grew up’ to become the generation that brought us – you can never be too rich or too thin. Yes, you can to both those. But it is my hope that this generation will not succomb to those lies.
It isn’t just mine either. This beautiful tribute from Harry to his mother Diana speaks of the shared vision for an empowered youth movement. Diana too believed in the power of young people to “change the world.”
But we have to change how we view and treat them. Look at the abuse that Greta Thunberg. Climate deniers claim that she is a poor autistic child manipulated by the adults. There’s loads of ableism (discrimination against the ‘disabled’) in there too. Trust me, as the mother of strong-willed, intelligent, and compassionate young autistic woman – no one manipulates them. In 2014, Malala Yousafzai, then aged 17, became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to make education accessible to all.
Growing up, I learned an expression….
Lead, follow, or get the hell out of my way.
Sometimes we ‘adults’ need to recognize that we don’t necessarily know ‘better.’ And perhaps we do need to give over to fresh ideas. Age, whether we are younger or older, is just a number and not even a relevant one when it comes to the passion, skills, and knowledge we need to correct our course now.
And that is exactly what Travis Jacobs is discovering the hard way:
He’d always believed that he had plenty of time. Of course, one day, he’d ‘grow up’ and ‘make something of himself.’ But he was still young. Though, after watching the girl sleep with her arms wrapped firmly around both her siblings, he was feeling decidedly old.
How old was she anyway? His earlier thoughts about how beautiful she was were undoubtedly true. He couldn’t quite figure out her genetic heritage. She was darker-skinned than her brother and sister. Her eyes a warm brown, whereas theirs were more golden-green. Travis just hoped like hell she was legal. He’d hate to have such thoughts about a kid.
The girl shifted; her sister groaned and leaned into her as those brown orbs opened. He could see that for a moment, she had trouble placing where they were. But she recovered quickly. He could tell by the sad look and unshed tears in her eyes. “How old are you anyway?”