People sometimes ask me what, if anything, aging has to do with young people. Hidden in such questions is the implicit assumption that aging is a scabrous tumor that has attached itself to the body of human life. Because we live in an adult-dominated society, we tend to believe that life before old age is automatically OK. Aging, we are told, is the problem.
I see things differently. The human life cycle that is currently in force in the Western world lionizes adulthood and the virtues associated with adulthood. It is also dismissive of the authentic virtues associated with both youth and age. This cult of adulthood is damaging to PEOPLE OF ALL AGES. For example, the epidemic of over-scheduling, testing and performance goals which is currently raging through childhood is a problem for everyone— not just children.
There is a piece of cultural wisdom which holds that a child’s “business” is play. The act of forcing children to work is, in most corners of the world, against the law and multinational companies are likely to face a storm of protest if news reports reveal that they, or their suppliers, use child labor. We understand that when children are forced to work for their daily bread, something precious is being stolen from them. They lose the right to play. The practice of “make believe,” with its running, chasing, pretending, and laughter is essential to healthy growth and development. It is a human right.
Children no longer work on factory floors here in America but they are, increasingly, being to put to work and held to adultish standards of behavior.