So writes Laura Helmuth at Slate . And she accepts the consequence: Young people are less so.

“Things go horribly wrong in societies composed largely of young people. The Lord of the Flies is fiction, but the Lord’s Resistance Army is all too horrifyingly real. One of the worst centuries in recorded Western history is the 14th, a time of Black Death, famine, and endless war between England and France. As Barbara Tuchman points out in A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century , one of the reasons the Hundred Years War lasted a hundred years is that repeated plagues killed off anyone, including kings and other established leaders. Again and again, teenagers or very young people inherited the throne and promptly did stupid, aggressive, frontal-lobe-deficient teenage nonsense like invading neighboring countries.”

Old people have lots of advantages:

“They’re also, as a group, wiser, happier, and more socially adept. They handle negative information better, have stronger relationships, and find better solutions to interpersonal conflicts than younger people do. Laura Carstensen of Stanford is one of the leading researchers in this field, and she says the fact that the population is getting older is ‘going to change every aspect of life as we know it, including education, politics, culture, and the nature of relationships.’ That’s because older people ‘have greater knowledge, better emotional stability, and they care deeply about making a meaningful contribution.’

“‘If you could take everything desirable about growing older and put it in a pill, do you know who would take it?’ says [S. Jay] Olshansky, the longevity researcher. ‘The young.’ The magic pill would confer ‘a profound sense of self-confidence . . . a sense of peace and joy that comes from decades of a loving relationship . . . the sheer joy in caring for grandchildren . . . financial security . . . and thoughtful reflection and intelligence.’”

More on: Miscellaneous

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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