If Youth Knew, If Age Could
(1) Opening — Elaborations of quote.
(2) Body — Young man has enthusiasm sparked by idealism. Old people are dull and slow but rich by experiences.
— Excess energy of youth can be disastrous, need for a sobering second thought and a moderating influence of age. Old people has knowledge and experience but are too drained to fructify their dreams.
— If any youth had knowledge and experience and old people zeal, wonders could be done.
— We need to use both harmoniously.
* Young managers from B-schools.
(3) Closing — Youth becomes limbs of aged and aged the brain of the youth. Wonders can be done.
That heaven would descend on earth if youth knew, if age could. In the age of rapid development, urbanisation and industrialisation, when tension is increasing in the society and relations are getting fractured, we need both the revolutionary zeal of the youth and the moderating influence of the aged. And why only today, all through the ages human society has been harmed by lack of experience of youth and lack of energy in the old. So we have numerous examples of great acts bringing disasters because they were not backed by knowledge and experience, and of great ideas that remained on paper as the thinkers lacked the zeal and enthusiasm to carry it to a practical end.
A young man has energy and is sparked by idealism. But excess energy of his has to be channelled properly. Only if a sobering second thought is given to his actions, he can do won
ders. To cite an example, the young men are made to use their energy to break window panes, to burn buses, to loot shops and to cause death and destruction by some unscrupulous persons who use them as a tool to achieve their own selfish ends. They are too innocent and totally ignorant about what they do and how much harm it causes to the society. They lack understanding and experience. Only if they knew how to use their energy for constructing the society, for eliminating evil, for spreading light of education and for the defence of the country, the society would be transformed in no time. Only age can give them experience. But by the time they age, all their energy is drained and they are too weak on body to transform the great ideas they have in their mind into reality.
We need both—the young man’s energy and the old man’s knowledge. What becomes important is that the young man is guided by the old to help him channel his energy into right direction. Could Alexander’s energy and zeal alone have helped him to win the world without proper guidance and training of his great master, Aristotle? There are two ways of getting the best out of both. One is that old people should remain healthy and strong physically and alert mentally. But it is very difficult and much beyond man’s control. Howsoever fit an old man may be, he can’t match the energy and strength of a young man. He has to ripen with age. And the other more practical solution could be that the young men get the knowledge, understanding and experience. Yes, experience can be taught. It is not only by greying of hairs that man learns. For example, management is an art, we have old time managers who started down in the hierarchy of the company and over the years learnt the skill of managing. But today, management schools churn out young managers who prove much more efficient than their older counterparts. The reason is that they learn from the diverse experiences of a number of old managers and what they imbibe is the best of all. So, we have young, smart, all knowing managers who rise fast and may reach the top at the age of 40-45 years. They have the best of both worlds—energy of youth and experience of age.
If we take example from our freedom struggle, we have a classic case of Nehruji and Gandhiji. Nehruji symbolised Indian youth—energetic, impatient and enthusiastic. Gandhiji was symbolic of Indian sage—old, thoughtful, moderate and patient. One doubts whether Nehruji, a fine man that he was, could have transformed into a great leader and statesmen if Gandhiji’s guidance were not available to him. He himself acknowledged the influence of Gandhiji on him. In his youth, he was more attracted towards revolutionaries but it was Gandhiji who showed him the path of evolution and helped him understand the righteousness and value of Satyagraha. These two greatmen together guided our country to the light of freedom.
So what becomes a practical solution is that the young and the old work together. Today when we talk about the generation gap and related problems, we must realise that old people were young once and the young people of today will become old tomorrow. So both should try to understand each other and give due respect to each other’s strengths—old man’s experience and the young man’s enthusiasm. It is only when both work together that we will have youth becoming limbs of the aged and aged becoming the brain of the youth. Then truly, we won’t lament—If youth knew, if age could.