The children of the ’60s and ’70s rebels are growing up, and many do not like the Brave New World their parents’ generation has foisted on them. They are our future hope.
“Young men are fitter to invent than to judge,” said Francis Bacon, “fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business.” In a world of “settled business” largely run by corrupt old men, where the status quo is at a premium in money as in politics, it is easy to lose sight of the value of youth, with its freshness, its optimism, and its innocent ambitions. Youth is the time when dreams are forged and nurtured, when newly minted minds struggle to make sense of the way things are, and dare to dream of how to make them better.
On those odd occasions when the stream of history is diverted, it is usually youth that dig the new channel. Jesus of Nazareth was 30 when he began his brief ministry that ended under the iron heel of the Judaeo-Roman state, but transformed human civilization forever. Most of his apostolic followers were also young men, able to abide then-revolutionary doctrines and to endure the physical hardships of missionary labor and persecution. Siddartha Gautama, who would become the Buddha, was roughly the same age when he grew dissatisfied with a life of princely dissipation, and sought enlightenment through austerity. Most religious reformers, heretics, and innovators throughout history have been young, restless souls dissatisfied with religious establishments that they regarded as ossified or otherwise in need of reform.