Youth needs no patronizing

Some adults, though not all, are mistaken in viewing the younger generation with raised eyebrows: They underestimate them. It could be they are jealous of their youth. For sure, their anger towards the young betrays their uncertainty and confusion about tomorrow. «When we were your age…» they sneer, primarily in a bid to exorcise their unfulfilled dreams. «Things were much harder back then.» Hunger, civil war, poverty, torn shoes, orphans: «You have everything these days,» they add, slightly pained. «You need a (foreign occupation), only then would you know what hunger really is.» The image of the grandfather at the Sunday family table echoes the generation gap and a Greece then just starting to raise its head. Greek youths are now surfing the Internet; they speak foreign languages; they have sexual relations early in life; they start driving when they are 18 (with dad’s money); they do postgraduate studies. Though they memorize entire textbooks to get into university, they nevertheless demand everything life can offer them. They too raise an eyebrow at their parents’ life. But soon their dreams fade under the hard facts of reality. They seek certainty, usually a post in the civil service. Faced with Greece’s ugly visage – reflected in political favors, profiteering and unequal opportunities – many younger people choose to leave the country. Many excel in countries where success is the fruit of hard effort and sharp thinking. Others, no less talented, subject themselves to the six-day, eight-hour work week and rebel by turning their backs on the offerings of Greek TV: Endless giggling, political quarrels, and kitschy glamor courtesy of a traveling circus of chameleons. Greece underestimates its children. It fails to make use of their skills and scares them. It kills their imagination and enjoyment, elements that mark a prosperous nation.