| The Younger Generation Knows Best -- Debate 3 |
Does the Younger Generation Know Best?
The Younger Generation Knows Best
Old people are always saying that the young are not what they were. The same comment is made from generation to generation and it is always true. It has never been truer than it is today. The young are better educated. They have a lot more money to spend and enjoy more freedom. They grow up more quickly and are not so dependent on their parents. They think more for themselves and do not blindly accept the ideals of their elders. Events which the older generation remembers vividly are nothing more than past history. This is as it should be. Every new generation is different from the one that preceded it. Today the difference is very marked indeed.
The old always assume that they know best far the simple reason that they have lieen around a bit longer. They don't like to feel that their values are being questioned or threatened. And this is precisely what the young are doing. They are questioning the assumptions of their elders and disturbing their complacency. They take leave to doubt that the older generation has created the best of all possible worlds. What they reject more than anything is conformity.
Office hours, for instance, are nothing more than enforced slavery. Wouldn't people work best if they were given complete freedom and responsibility? And what about clothing? Who said that all the men in the world should wear drab grey suits and convict haircuts? If we turn our minds to more serious matters, who said that human differences can best be solved through conventional polities or by violent means? Why have the older generation so often used violence to solve their problems? Why are they so unhappy and guilt-ridden in their pexsonal lives, so obsessed with mean ambitions and the desire to amass more and more material possessions? Can anything be right with the ratrace? Haven't the old lost touch with all that is important in life?
These are not questions the older generation can shrug off lightly. Their record over the past forty years or so hasn' t been exactly spotless. Traditionally, the young have turned to their elders for guidance. Today, the situation might be reversed. The old - if they are prepared to admit it-coutd learn a thing or two from their children. One of the biggest lessons they could learn is that enjoyment is not "sinful".
Enjoyment is a principle one could apply to all aspects of life. It is surely not wrong to enjoy your work and enjoy your leisure; to shed restricting inhibitions. It is surely not wrong to live in the present rather than in the past or future. This emphasis orr the present is only to be expected because the young have grown up under the shadow of the bomb: the constant threat of complete annihilation. This is their glorious heritage. Can we be surprised that they should so often question the sanity of t.he generaiion that bequeathed it?
Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.
1. Problems of the Young
More than 20 Chinese and American experts discovered that young people of both countries are facing the same probiems of economic and social pressures and lack of confidence.
Wayne Meisel, director of the Campus Outreach Opportunity League of Minnesota University, said that under economic pressure American young people have to work hard and most students have to take part-time work in order to support themselves.
"Young people today, ?he said, "are stereotyped as apathetic, selfcentred, and concerned only with making money and getting ahead."
In these circumstances, he said, young people lack confidence,whicb was not the case in the 1960s when young Americans thought themselves capable of doing anything.
In spite of the different conditions in China, Li Xuequan, director of the, higher education section of the All-China Youth Federation, said Chinese young people are alsc facing economic pressure and are worried about iriflation and corruption.
Trading has appeared in many Chinese universities as students with something to sell try to make money on campus.
Moreover, Li said, college students have begun to doubt whether what they are learning in class will help them find work,as many businesses totally ignore students of pure theory.
So people describe students as "a lost generation tired of study", regardless
of the causes in society that are shaking their confidence.
In order to resolve these problems, the Chinese and American experts agreed that youth organizations should call on the whole of society to create favourable conditions for the healthy growth of young people, as well as to enconrage them to meet the urgent needs of society and to challenge the assumption that young people are apathetic and uncaring.
Meisel said that since last year he has sent letters of . "challenge to youth" to many young people, urging them to commit themselves to addressing such needs as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, educating the illiterate, consoling the lonely and sick, serving the elderly,and preserving the environment.
The letter says: "Through service, we touch the lives of others and enrich our own. "
2. Students' Mental Health
According to a study conducted in Tianjin, out of 50, 000 college students, 16 per cent have suffered from anxiety, nervousness, depression or problems due to the early onset of sexual awareness. Of students from elementary school to high school age in shanghai, 27 per cent have some kind of emotional disorder,are tired of study, have premature love affairs, smoke or run away from home. In addition, most of them are bothered by impulsiveness, envy, worry or melancholy. Not a small number of students show a sense of inferiority, squeamishness, aggression or strong self-will.
Bad psychological health causes serious repercussions in a teenager's individual development. In tliree main high s.chools in the southwest of China, of students leaving school, 74 per cent left due to bad health and 42.2 per cent of those suffered from emotional problems and stress.
During puberty, teenagers go through a period of "changing times? During this time, most teenagers' bodies and sexoal desires develop. They are beginning to mature both physically and mentally. But most of them can not become mature in both these areas at the same time. Some teenagers' emotions remain childish, dependent and impetuous. hf we do not resolve the problems that face t.eenagers, they not only will suffer from them, but they will also probably go astray.
3. Worries Induce Emotional Problems
More than 16 per cent of Chinese college and middle school students have emotional problems caused by concern over exams, poor relationships with their teachers and a lack. of enthusiasm for their studies.
Some students feel depressed, fearing they fall short of their parents' expectations.
An unhappy family Tife can also lead to depression.
These conclusions are the result of research into emotional problems among college and middle school students.
According to a study of 2, 961 urban,and rural college and middle school students,. problems arise most frequently in two groups: students in their first and second year of junior middle schools and those in their last year at senior middle school . or the first year in higher-learning institutions.
The survey also revealed that emotional problems increase as students get older.
The percentage of students with emotional problems in junior middle schools is around 13 per cent, while the figures for students in senior middle school and higher-learning institutions are 19 and 25 per cent respectively.
4. Eager to Be Off
Me: Mummy. I've been thinking, I think I might go to London at the end of
Mama: Oh yes?
Me: Yes, a friend of mine wants someone to share a flat and I thought it
would be a good.opportunity for me to...
Mama: Well, that sounds a very good idea. Where exactly is.this flat?
Me: Well, we haven't exactly got one, but I thought I might go and look -
it's easier if you're on the spot.
Mama: Oh yes, I'm sure it is. I hear it's very difficult to find flats in
London these days. '
Me: (myheart sinking as 1 think of adverts, agencies, Evening Standards, in
etcetera )Oh no, it's not at all difficult, people get themselves fixed
up no time.
Mama: Oh well, I suppose you know better than me. What will you live on while
Me: I'll get a job. I'll have to sometime" you know. I'll write to the
Mama: Just any sort of job?
Me: Whatever there is.
Mama: Don't you want a proper career, Sarah? I mean to say, with a degree like
Me: No, not really, I don't know what I want to do.
Mama: I'm not sure I like the idea of your going off all the way to London
without a proper job and with nowhere to live... still, it's your own
life, I suppose. That's what I say. No one can accuse me of trying
to keep you at home, either of you... Who is this friend of yours?
Me: A girl cailed Gill Slater. She was at Oxford...
Mama: And what does she do?
Me: Oh, She's a -she's a sort of research student.
Mama: Oh yes? Well, it sounds like a very nice idea. After all, you won't want
to stay here all your life cooped up with your poor old mother, will you?
I shall lose all my little ones at one fell swoop, shall I?
Me: Oh, don't be silly.
Mama: What do you mean, don't be silly? It seems to me you're very eager to be
Me: You know that's not it at all.
Mama: Well, what is it then?
Me: Well, it's just that I can't stay here all my life, can I?
Mama: No, of course you can't, nobody ever suggested anything of the sort .
When have I ever tried to keep you at home? Haven' t I just said that
you must lead your own life? After all, that's why we sent you off to
Oxford, it was always me who said you two must go - I don't know what I
wouldn't have given for the opportunities you,ve been given. And your
father wasn't any too keen, believe me. In my day education was kept
for the boys, you know.
Me: Well, you hadn' t any boys to educate, had you? You had to make do with
5. A Room of One's Own
A: Have you ever... you know... sort of... Mum's said to you, like, Could you
help me clear up? So you say, Yes, O. K. and you put your brother's or
sister's things away, and then they come up and they say, Where's so and so?
(Yeah...Yes)But then you think to yourself, Well,it's annoying to have... to
have... to leave somebody's coat or something in the middle of the room...
(Yes... Yes,I know...) Do you know what I mean?
B: And when they do complain, you feel as if you haven't done your job, but
you say, Well, I did pack it away, didn't I?... You know...what are they
then complaining about?
D: It's annoying as well...
E: I do the same. . . I mean if I find anything lying around... if it's no good
I just throw it away...
A: It might mean a lot...
D: I think in my family. ..I think my mother is the most considerate... she'd
ask rather than my father...my father wouldn't.
A: Well, I'm lucky...I've got a room of my own...so...
D: I'd like a room of my own, but then again, you don't keep everything
in your room, do you? My dad or mother goes in there and finds anything that
she doesn't think is necessary... my mother would ask me first,but my dad...
B: Well, frankly, my mother wouldn't touch anything in my room, you know... she
just doesn' t. She feels I've put it there for some purpose... but again, if
I go into her bedroom... (Yeah... That annoys me... ) But say if I have a
day off from school... or when...or we, ve got some sort of holiday and
I see things arouad and I say, well, you know, I' Il give the place a good l
old clean, at least it'l help...and I put things neatly, it's all tidy. ..I
wouldn't throw anything out, because I'm not sure whether she wants it or
not...and then she comes home, she says, Where's this? where's that?
... I feel awful...
D: And you feel that...um...she doesn't appreciate...
B: ... appreciate, you know... I even the other day moved her bedroom... er...
(Furniture) ... furniture around.
D: I did that in my house...
B: I did... I thought it looked awful where it was, you know.
A: But I... what annoys me is my room... is my room ... If... if it , s in a
muddle I know where everything is... I like my room to be in a mess.
B: But you see, we... I keep that as a sort of main bedroom, you know... (main
room...)Yes, sometimes I don't even sleep in my room, it,s so cold....
C: Ooh, crumbsl
B: How do you feel on this subject, Pamels?
D: [with a great guffaw] Negative!
C: I always know where everything is in my room even if it is untidy, but my
mother comes along and I can't find anything anywhere.
A: I like it when you get to that age where your parents seem to realize that
you're... you're going off on your own... (Yes... You're growing up... )...you've
got your own life to lead, so you think, Right, we'll leave all her things,
she can do what she likes with them. It's her time, she can do what she
likes with her time.
B: They start frorii a certain point, don't they?
E: Well, I don't think they always do that...They try to remember that you're
growing up and then they forget.
D: Yes...they try to protect you...
E: They' re treating you like children and telling you where to put things...
C: ...going round tidying up after you.
6. "Intimate Elder Sisters" Allay Teenagers' Worries
Xiao Lin, a third year junior high school student from Beijing, packed his books and clothes and left home, with tears in his eyes.
He felt his divorced parents never loved him. He felt lonely, but he did not know where to go.
He thought of 440779, a phone number to reach the so-called "Intimate Elder Sisters".
That day was a day to remember in'his whole life. One of the sisters came to see him, and to his utter enjoyment, spent .the day playing with him .
"She told me 'The world is not as cold as you think it is. There is so much love here. I love you. Your friends love you.'"
Xiao Lin stayed at home, trying to fill it with the love he got from his Intimate Elder Sister.
Actually, the Intimate Elder Sisters are Wu Ruomei, I.u Qin, Ge Shujuan and Huang Xiaopo, editors o# the China Chiidren's News. Since they opened the hot line in March 1988, they have received mor.e than 10,000 calls from children across the country.
"We hope to ease their troub(es through heart-to-heart chats," said Wu Ruomei. Many of the children they talked to were disturbed by secrets they felt obliged to keep from both their parents and their teachers.
Children reach the Elder Sisters every day by phone with a wide range of funny or astonishing questions. "I' m growing into a fatty, sister, and I don't want that," and, "What do children on other planets look like?"
The questions are not always small and easy to solve. Yet, " Even if we just listen to these children' s sobbing, we' re helping them out of their loneliness," Wu said.
When Iittle Yanni called her Elder Sister in Beijing from Wuhan, she was weeping. "Mama is dying from cancer," she said. "I don't want her to leave me."
After comforting little Yanni, her Sisters informed children in other parts of the country, who sent Yanni and her mother letters and gifts, encouraging them to fight the disease courageously.
A Beijing boy refused to be identified on the phone. But he told his Elder Sister his cousin had accidentally injured another child and had to pay all the medical fees. Afraid of informing.his parents, he had stolen 110 yuan from a classmate's home and was discovered later. He was in great distress, but did not know what to do.
Wu said to him, "The boy's actions are forgiveable. Once he clears up the situation, he'll.win the trust of others.?Her sense told her that the boy was talking about himself.
After the call, Wu wrote to the boy's father, asking them to help the boy.
A few days later, a boy appeared before the editors. It was he who had taken the money. Now, a good student in No 20. Middle School of Beijing, he often visits with his Elder Sisters.
During the past year, Wu and her colleagues also opened the hot line for a short period in eight other cities in the country. In Nanning, capital of South China' s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, they received 509 calls in three days.