To flaming youth let virtue be as wax

I can't remember the last time I had an impassioned debate about the definition of happiness and the impossible nature of justice. Sometimes I miss being young.

Are young people more or less interesting than old people? I've generally assumed, even when I was young, that more experience equals more interesting. That seems logical. But lately I've been wondering. There is the Hamlet effect. More experience means more dithering. More uncertainty, more doubt, more fear. Less passion, less energy, less versatility. More responsibility. Responsibility is not very interesting, I'm afraid.

When I was young (I know, I'm not exactly old, but I'm talking about real youth here. I'm no youth. Young men don't look twice before calling me ma'am.), I found it incomprehensible that people could tolerate poverty and injustice in their midst. How could people devote their lives to accumulating wealth instead of fighting the good fight? Adults seemed so complacent. Was that going to happen to me? And here I am -- I'm not voting Republican, but I'm not dedicating my life to eradicating oppression either. And I can understand why people choose to live in a gated community literally and figuratively; focused on protecting their own children from poverty and injustice, even at the expense of wealth and justice for the wider world.

I think I now find it harder to understand how people can devote themselves to a cause. How do they go on picking up the battle standard day after day, in the face of hopelessness and helplessness and doubt? When there are people on the other side of your cause who fervently believe that you are wrong, how do you go on believing that you're right? It seems to me that gets harder as you get older and have more experience with being wrong. Growing up is a lot like being in a photoshop file while someone is adjusting the contrast. Either it gets grayer and grayer until you can't see a damn thing, or you start seeing everything in black and white.

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