A few weeks ago I wrote this blog on why I thought material of the kind espoused in The Seven Habits and my own book was ignored by so many for so long, suggesting that people tend to arrive at an age when they suddenly seek meaning rather than stuff.
Today, I put a new spin on this not by looking at why the older ‘do’, but on why the younger ‘do not’.
Reading Stephen Covey’s anthology of first drafts and first thoughts, from the book ‘Primary Greatness’, I read this sentence.
“I maintain that humility is the mother of all virtues, because humility helps us centre our lives on principles.”
Young people are – or want to appear to be – confident individuals. They are fit, recently educated, fashionable, invincible. They tend, therefore and without judgment on my part, to be incredibly egotistic. They are finding their way and have yet to realise that life isn’t one long party – or that if it is a party, it eventually ends when they discover the responsibilities they didn’t possess in their teens and twenties.
Perhaps this is as it should be. Perhaps later wisdom is intended to be delayed until people are ready for it, or until their proverbial wild oats are sown. I have no idea, because I am not the font of all wisdom. By any stretch!
This is why, perhaps, the young resist the wisdom literature. They don’t need it because they know better. They see things ‘as they are’ through interested, open eyes – whereas we old fuddy-duddies see things through experience gained by making mistakes. And having made mistakes we older ones seek to redress them, whereas the young are still learning from theirs.
But imagine if the young were taught that you can be humble and still have fun? That you can leave a legacy of forty or fifty years foundation rather than just for that night or weekend? That they are still learning, and that they could direct and control that learning if they just gave more thought to the longer-term. To their whole lives instead of the now.
Covey goes on to add, “I would then say that courage is the father of all virtues.”
Of course, another influence on the young is the peer group. Which means that Covey’s second quote reveals something which the young tend to lack. Not physical courage – they seem to have that in abundance, as a rule. But courage born of a properly considered and congruent values system, where they act in accordance with their conscience and what they know, deeply, to be true – and yet what those around them are trying to convince them is just ‘boring old stuff’.
This is what should be taught in school, not environmentalism and ‘social justice’ and ‘rights of the individual’ (without responsibilities of and towards the individual).
Kids need to be shown that courage does not mean lack of consideration. That wisdom is not a downer but a path to ‘better’. There are schools out there that do this, but they’ve had to initiate and fund this training themselves.
Wouldn’t it be better if it was a state-funded part of the curriculum? Instead of Welsh.