Who is valued most in society – old or young? (Long version)
In some countries old age is highly valued, while in others youth is emphasized. Which viewpoint do you agree with?
In different parts of the world, we find greater or lesser status for some groups in society. Many Asian societies traditionally have a lot of respect for older people, but today in Asia, childhood and youth seems to be getting more and more attention. In this essay I will say why I think it can be unhealthy to place too much value on any group simply because of their age.
Old age is often associated with wisdom. With age comes experience, and in many societies younger family members consult older ones for advice on relationships or problems. In some societies, not just older living family members but ancestors are revered and consulted. However, if old age just involves the same experience over and over again, there may not be much wisdom or flexibility attached to it. People who have held the same position for many many years often are reluctant to change or to allow anyone else to introduce change. Companies or organizations run by older workers may become too conservative to succeed against competition from younger rivals. Many aging political leaders have wrecked their countries by refusing to step down or change policy. It’s clear that age by itself is not a qualification for anything.
But it’s equally foolish to focus too much on youth. Having hundreds of thousands of young graduates and a young, vibrant workforce in a country is usually regarded as an asset, but it can result in many poorly-paid jobs as employees for foreign companies. Both Communist and Fascist governments idolized their youth, but this was often a form of brainwashing, and to provide fodder for factories and armies. Today, Thai, Korean, and Filipino television and magazines are full of impossibly cute children, teenagers with flawless skin, and pop idols. This can create problems of self-esteem for the millions of ordinary people who do not match those images. As public debate and television become even more trivial and self-obsessed, billions of dollars are wasted by people on trying to look and act like children instead of adults with a mind and voice of their own.
In conclusion, an ideal society would have a balance. We should appreciate both the beauty and potential of youth and the advice and experience of old age, but should also be careful to understand the reality of each.
391 words, average 20 words per sentence. Too long for the 40-minute IELTS test, and very complicated. You can read a shorter (271-word) version of the same essay here.