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Subpage to the personal homepage of Christian Heinze * June 11th, 1999

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Youth

I was given the job to praise youth. I am going to try it from the male point of view only, for fear of transcending my limits of competence.

It is customary to praise, if not to worship youth as such. But I think this is nonsense because in youth, so many important things are missing. Young men usually have not enough money. At least not enough for wine, women and song. At least not for the type of women they would really be interested in. Young men depend on father’s or mother’s car. They have no position in life or society. Considerable tension exists between ambition and desire on the one hand and lack of possibilities and fulfilment on the other. Yet little knowledge and little wisdom is there to stabilize life and soul, orientation is lacking or uncertain. Young people are always under pressure of discipline mostly directed by others and obliged to take in doubtful teachings without a chance of real productivity. When mother or father are beginning to step in the background, either lack of company of the right women or men prevails or there are too many of them. There is nothing but trouble with them and worries all the time up to the point where young men swear to themselves that they will stay away from the other sex forever. What remains is physical strength, sometimes experienced as more of a burden than of a privilege.

To sum up, it seems, there is little need for youth. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe brought this to the point in a nice verse impossible for me to translate. However, the idea of it in English is something like this:
Youth, my friend, you need – should you really need it at all – only
when lovely young girls violently cling to your neck,
or when you find yourself obliged to defend the honour of the home team.

It is much more advantageous to be old. Old age possesses abundantly what youth lacks. Ours is the most wonderful wife that we can imagine, more money than can be spent on wine and song. Ours is all the wisdom and know-how the world can offer, a position in life, we are free and sovereign and especially carefree and completely happy.

But in order to return to my original task of praising youth, please consider what I have said up to here as a mere introduction, and an exaggeration. I shall try to make up by disclosing the whole truth now:

Youth is hope.

Youth is future.

Youth is energy and optimism.

Youth is innocence and virginity.

Youth is the exciting and satisfying and stirring experience of first understanding.

Youth is the time of occasional defeat but of eventual victory and conquest.

Youth provides the carelessness that induces enterprise and endeavour.
Youth is not distracted by the care for a career, it does not care about danger,
it doesn’t even consciously care about happiness.

Youth is the time of wonderful and deep feelings.

Youth is the time where small pleasures provide happiness.

Should we not preserve Youth throughout our lifetime ?