I feel old today.
There are some points in your life that are milestones. Moments in time that make you realize exactly where you are on your life's map. And today I have been slapped in the face by one of those points. I am old. Not the usual bend over to pick a shoe and find it hard to stand up again old. Not the fact you can't eat certain foods after a certain hour of the day old. The worst kind of old.
Today I said out loud, and not in a sarcastic tone – the youth today have no values.
Now, this is a major sign of 'old' for two reasons. First, what do you mean the youth today? Until last Tuesday I was the youth today. And second, the sentence is so generalizing and untrue it sounds 'right' to the 'old'.
The youth have no values today? Of course they do. Some of them even have good values. But all signs around me show that there is the possibility I am being a bit too kind and optimistic.
And this is where I will do a brilliant maneuver and instead of wallowing in the 'when I was young' song of praise for the glorious past and the deep realization of how old I really am, I will direct my thoughts to the question what values really are and what are they good for.
A person acquires a set of values as he grows up. A set of 'rules of engagement' concerning each and every move or decision ,and encapsulating his relationships in society.
Values, as their name suggest, are the amount of value you give to things or ideas. Is this serious? Is this important? Is this good or bad? The weight you put in your life's choices. Your list of priorities.
I can think of some values that I like to think I stand behind. The respect for other people's properties. The family as a social core. Hard work for good pay. Commitment. Using reason to solve problems and to choose a path in life. Remembering art and culture is an essential ingredient for happiness and fulfillment of a society.
But I will never really stand behind any party or leader that talks about values, especially when I hear the 'bring old values back' speeches. I am not a big fan of fascism, of religion or of any other group that is known to be advocates for 'values'.
At the moment I see three samples which to me represent the 'values' problem we are suffering from today, better than any slideshow or graph:
First example – no values.
What I see happening today in the UK is highly disturbing. I guess it is more disturbing for the people who live there, as it really does seem from my computer chair like the country is catching fire that even the British rain can't easily extinguish.
It is disturbing not because of the violence and the destruction. I see them all over the world and in much greater scale. True, in less popular places , with less pasty people so it doesn’t make the headlines, but it is still there.
It is disturbing because it is chaos and mayhem for the sake of chaos and mayhem. It is a drunk ignorant crowd raping a city while people look from their windows and do nothing.
The 'Yob' as they are referred to by the locals, a word made up of youth and mob, doesn’t have an agenda, doesn’t have a cause, and god knows doesn’t have a leadership to control it.
In the last decade Britain metamorphosed from the cultural center of the world to the hooligan center of the world, with their biggest export being beer crazed loudmouth violent people, and not really doing anything to stop the situation or fix it.
But can you blame them? If education is not given In schools, parents do not have the tools or the time to educate their children and the TV and internet don’t see why they should educate the watcher, it takes a really uneducated person to assume or expect there will be any educated people in that society.
If you ask a young Brit today what is important in life, what is the answer you would get? Health? Happiness? Harmony with your fellow men? Even success is not on the list anymore. What is important in life is whatever happens in the next 3 minutes. Fast food, fast wifi connection, shorter texts, smaller thoughts. Now. A truly Zen generation if I can say so myself.
Values are what is important to you in life. And we all try , or at least pretend to try, to work together in order to keep and take care of these important things.
When there is nothing important in life, why shouldn’t I get drunk at 12, have a child at 15 and spend my nights sleeping in my vomit outside a McDonald when I am 17? Can you blame them for burning down this world?
Second example – wrong values.
There is something beautiful about seeing how the UK and the US are always in this struggle, since the revolution of the rich American that didn’t want to pay taxes (déjà vu?) and goes on today. It seems like two magnetic poles which always try to contradict each other, if only for spite.
In the us I see an awakening of people with extremely strong values. Sorry. In the us I see an awakening of people who SHOW extremely strong values. Most of them are full of it, but for the man on the street it works.
It is nice to see people with real convictions. With a real spark of true dedication. Could have been nicer if these convictions were not for ignorance, religion fanaticism blatant racism and hate.
The revival of the 'American way', of the 'old values' we want to bring back is just another sample of fascism and Nazism clawing back to power using fear, despair and a xenophobic glee. And the masses LOVE it.
Of course, these are the same masses that love the deep fried butter glob on a stick you find this year in the Iowa state fair, so I wouldn’t really say that their approval of these values is something remotely healthy to anyone…
It is nothing but the pendulum striking the other side.
No values? We will give you CLEAR values. Right and wrong. Black and white. Socialism and freedom. Family and sluts.
The people like simple answers. Should I do this? Don’t give me a view on the subject with facts and sides and projections and long term plans. Should I do this? Give me an answer. Yes or no.
I find comfort in caressing my "What would Sara Palin do" bracelet. (only 4.99$)
Example three – choosing values
The awakening I see in Israel at the moment is nothing less than amazing. For those of you who do not know, I have left Israel a decade and a half ago with a sense of disgust and desperation , not only because of the occupation ,the governments horrible corrupt decisions and the dead economy.
I left because I saw nothing in people's eyes. No hope.
Suddenly, in the last month, I see young people, who might also have an ipad like their UK or US counterparts, but that is NOT the most important part of their lives. And that is already a great start. There is ROOM for something more.
Suddenly I see young people who chose not to let the animalistic violent atmosphere they live in, with the military life that was seeping into the street life and your core, stop them from having a peaceful discussion and a protest that is not about destruction but about building.
Suddenly I see young people who chose to go fight for someone else's rights. Who understood we are all connected, we are all one in the end and if we don’t work together we will spend our lives in squalor fighting each other. Soldiers marching for single mother's rights, gays marching for reserve soldiers rights, young marching for the pensions of the old, old marching for the future of the young.
Don’t get me wrong. They are not all saints. Far from it. They are not all altruistic. Far from it. They are not even all there for the protest. It's a big party after all. But all of that is not important. They are all there. And they are doing it in a civilized manner. With respect. With thought.
A couple of days ago the most beautiful thing I saw happened, when 150 artists, both young and old, both fledglings and famous, marched into the Tel-aviv museum of art and did a sit-in demanding that the museum will stop being an entertainment tool for the rich elites and go back to be a cultural force for the people.
I don’t see that happening in the UK. I don’t see that happening in the US.
These are values. I don’t know old values, new values…. It doesn’t matter.
I hope that I will see that kind of uprising around the world sooner than later.
Last year Jon Stewart held a rally "to restore sanity" in Washington.
brilliant. And a good start.
But he is a comedian.
And when I look around? What I see is not funny at all.