“He’s old enough to decide what’s right but young enough not to choose it.” –Neil Peart
Every time I hear this quote, I sigh at the fact that it’s true. Not just true of young people in general, but true of me in particular. So often I know what is the right thing to do, but I’m not wise enough to choose it. The book of Proverbs commands that we pursue wisdom, for it is worth more than rubies. Interesting that we’re told to never be wise in our own eyes or lean on our own understanding – instead to walk with the wise to become wise.
When Oscar Wilde said “I am not young enough to know everything,” he wasn’t admitting that the youth know everything, but that they think they know everything. It’s arrogant to think that way, but it remains an unfortunately common mindset.
Those who receive the brunt of the arrogance of the young are their parents and teachers. Mabel Hale wrote in her book Beautiful Girlhood: “Sometimes I have wondered that to youth should be given the responsibility of laying the foundation of life’s character just when the heart is the gayest and the thoughts the least settled, but if the responsibility came later, it would be at a time when the help of parents and teachers is not to be had.”
In other words, our mentors are a gift, they are helpers along the way. But the only way to receive advice is to admit that advice is needed – a wise move on the part of anyone in their youth.