To all under-25s:
Like many others of my age ( old, you don’t need to know the specifics), I was deeply depressed to read this week that almost half of adults in the UK think that you are ‘becoming feral’ and almost half see you as ‘violent and starting to behave like animals’.
You have to forgive us. You see, when you get older, you get more reactionary (this might even happen to you, strange as it seems now). So, when all of us, saw some of you (albeit it, a tiny minority), behaving badly during the summer riots, we over-reacted. And, in our defence, we are subject to a daily barrage of negative images of you from the media – we never see you doing good things, or even just being yourselves. Of course, the media, who love nothing more than filming you in hoodies (preferably being obnoxious), are the same people who’ve been hacking, bribing and lying to you, and us. So, great role models, eh?
And the media feeds the politicians, who, conscious of the fact that many of you can’t, or won’t, vote, invariably go for the cheap shot. So, rather than highlight they great work you do, they’ll invariably pander to the whole ‘feral’ stereotype. These are the people who know that 25% of you are unemployed, but don’t seem to want to discuss it in parliament. Funny, that.
Sadly, when it comes to social justice, you don’t really figure in our thoughts. We’ve saddled you with massive debt problems, and while our pensions are protected yours, frankly, will be virtually non-existent. The value of a degree is likely to be a lot less than it was when we were your age, because globalisation means that corporations can get graduates from emerging nations to do the jobs we used to do, for a fraction of the price. Still, at least some of you won’t have to worry about paying back your student loan.
And, after ALL of this, you still find it in your hearts to work with us. I see you in our schools most weeks and, on the whole, you’re unfailingly generous towards us, usually polite and astonishingly optimistic, given the way most of the mechanisms of the establishment are stacked against you.
You see, when it comes to it, many of us have been the lucky generation – no wars to get conscripted into, very low unemployment for much of our working lives, and we’ve benefitted richly from property booms, massive state borrowing, and major investments in public infrastructure. As a result it’s made us, well, a bit selfish, I suppose.
We don’t deserve you, but please don’t desert us, as we’re going to need you to look after us when we get sick and unable to look after ourselves. I doubt we’ll regard you (or your own children) as feral then. And, you at least have the consolation of knowing that you’ll outlive us, and then hopefully you can put right some of the things we screwed up while we were here.