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Saturday, 30 July 2016 13:19

Key Thoughts

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Youth and Consequences

I had a reality check a few weeks ago. I was listening to a couple of young people in the office talking about old people and it dawned on me that when people that age talk about old people, they are actually talking about people my age. That was pretty sobering.

The saying goes that youth is wasted on the young, meaning that young people don't appreciate the energy and vitality they have until they no longer have it and hence are no longer young. I can only assume that whoever said that was actually one of those whom the young would refer to as old. I don’t think young people believe youth is being wasted on them.

There can be little doubt that those under 40 think and function differently than those of us who are over 40.

This was made obvious in the recent British vote for Brexit. The overwhelming majority of those over 40 voted to leave the European Union. Conversely, the overwhelming majority of those under 40 voted to stay. Ironically, if the vote stands, the young people are the ones who will have to live with the repercussions of leaving the EU for a much longer time than those over 40. Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

The same polarity seems to be obvious in our presidential election. Someone in their 20s was more likely to vote for Bernie Sanders than for Hillary Clinton. In a recent poll, only 28 percent of voters under the age of 24 had a favorable opinion of Hillary. Voters under the age of 30 tend to only have a turnout rate between 20 to 30 percent, whereas voters over the age of 45 turnout at around 60 percent on average.

I firmly believe that this polarity is essential, especially in this election year. Youth may be impetuous and rash at times. We, the older crowd, may feel that they don’t understand and haven’t studied history enough to understand the ramifications of what they are voting on, but I also know that they think that we are stuck in the past and are either unwilling or lack the courage to change—change that is essential for this country.

Unfortunately, the young don’t seem to want to listen to the older generation any more than the older generation seems to want to listen to them. Candidates who appeal to the one age group tend to alienate the other, even if they say they want to hear from them and listen to their concerns.

Unlike voters in England dealing with the Brexit vote, neither the older nor the younger voters here in America will have to live forever with the repercussions of their decision; they can always vote for a new president in four or, at worst, eight years.

All that said, however, what we do need is to listen more than we rant. Who knows, both the young and the old might have something valuable to say.


Rob Vajko lives in Purdy.

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