Yankee Classic Article | Does Old Age Begin at Thirty?
The immigrant children do not learn their way around without help; often this help is given by clever, unscrupulous elders who exaggerate the dangers of the alien surroundings and exaggerate thereby the urgent necessity for dependence upon the initiated: themselves.
Stripped of non-essentials, what is this “New World, in which only Youth call feel at home”? Isn’t it the product of verbal sleight-of-hand, abracadabra intended to dazzle? Of course, “the good old days” are gone, never to return – and never were so good as the weak sentimentalists choose to believe, anyway. But eternally, those who are unfit, as individuals, have decried change, have wished to live in any other time save that in which they are living. This is not news. What is news, is the erection by the sheer magic of words, of a phantom world, purposely made difficult, incomprehensible, with danger signs everywhere, and a powerful campaign to persuade all those over thirty years old that there is no place in it for them.
But what is the age of those who direct this propaganda?
If I were twenty, and a man old enough to be my father told me I alone had clear-sightedness, told me my generation was the hope of civilization, and my elders could not possibly possess the wisdom youth possessed, I trust I would promptly prove my clear-sightedness by inquiring as to his motives. By making certain he was not capitalizing, for purposes of his own, Youth’s eagerness for novelty, for the untried; youth’s glorious self-confidence. I would want to ascertain whether he truly believed Youth wise enough to lead the way, or secretly, in his heart, only believed Youth foolish enough to follow where it was adroitly led? By a vitally interested minority of the older generation!
This article is from the December 1937 issue of Yankee Magazine.