Came across this gem in Erik Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis:

Adolescence is thus a vital regenerator in the process of social evolution, for youth can offer its loyalties and energies both to the conservation of that which continues to feel true and to the revolutionary correction of that which has lost its regenerative significance (1968, p.134).

The challenge of course is to distinguish between what ought be conserved and what needs revolutionary connection. I believe Erikson held an overconfidence in the ‘rejuvenative power of youth’: what ‘feels true’ to a teenager is often far from what will bring hope for the future (there are after all ‘evil desires of youth’ from which we ought to flee, 2 Tim 2:22) and the desire for revolution has not infrequently been levelled at things that ought not be discarded. Yet at the same time as reminding us to not place all our hope in youthfulness, we are also challenged against an overconfidence in age as the sole repository of wisdom.

We need each other, young and old, to help one another carefully listen to all that God has revealed in the Bible and to help one another wisely discern all that God is doing in the world today. Doing that, in the fellowship of the Spirit, we can together look to God to fulfil the promise that we would be led into all truth.

Having discerned God’s will together, then we will be ready to receive the gift of youthfulness: their loyalties and energies to challenge the cynical tiredness of the aged, and their revolutionary zeal to shake the church from our comfortable torpor.

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