Ideals of Youth

Dora van Gelder Kunz – USA

One of the remarkable changes which the War [note from the editor: the author refers here to the First World War; 1914-1918] has brought about is the awakening of Youth. All over the world the young people are becoming vigorously active in affairs of importance. It is most interesting to read how many organisations have actually been formed and to learn how great a number of young people-have joined them. The dominant note in these movements is peace. It is their aim to try to establish peace in the world by breaking down the barriers of national prejudice – in other words, the realization of a brotherhood of mankind. Out of the experience of the War, Youth has gained the inevitable conviction that a new way of life must be found – a way of life in harmony with the realities of today. This is characteristic of the Youth of today, a desire to do away with the old methods as far as possible, and to try to reconstruct our world on a new basis. It is trying to put the test of modern realities' to our inherited conventions.

One of the Ideals of Youth is the right of every individual to develop along his own line, in order that new ways may be discovered. This we notice very strongly everywhere, for it is the age of the individual which Youth is bringing about. From this,Youth is trying to build a nation and a better world based on tolerance and co-operation.

Those of us among the younger generation who are Theosophists, however, have even a wider conception and a better understanding of these objects through our knowledge of the inner realities of life. The object of these Youth movements is brotherhood, as it is that of the Theosophical Society, hut we understand this better as we can realize more fully how the One Life is running through all. We believe that there is one great plan running through this universe – evolution; and we can watch this One Life developing in all beings. It is through the realization of this process of unfoldment and by an understanding of the unity of all, which will make it easier for us to break down our prejudices and to gain the serene tolerance that is needed. We often look at things and life in general too much from the form side; we do not sufficiently think of the life side. If we did, we could test the people and things which surround us by that which corresponds to the life side within us, the reality of our own soul. This is the one and certain way by which we can grasp something of truth and this is one of our great Ideals, to seek truth, face it, and not to be afraid of it. Individualism, therefore, is going to be the keynote of to-day; we want to find truth for ourselves and in our own way, by first seeking, the truth within us. It is because we are, realizing the beauty of life that each one of us desires to develope1 and unfold that which is within each one of us, as we believe that each soul has to give its own message to the world, and it is this which we wish to call forth. There is, of course, a serious danger in this attitude, as we are likely to get too serious and to think our own method the only right path of finding the truth; therefore the realization of unity is the most important factor of all. The Motto of our Movement, “Laugh at yourself”, conveys something of the spirit which is inspiring the Youth of to-day, and it is well therefore to understand it somewhat more fully.

Laugh at yourself'” seems very simple, but it implies a great many things; First of all, it means that we must have sufficient courage to face ourselves honestly, and this very few can do. And then, after having faced ourselves to learn to see everything around us in such perspective that we can gaze at the world surrounding us with the simplicity and wonder of a child. It is this spirit which we want, and which is so necessary in the wonderful work of reconstructing our world which to many must seem lost in darkness. We do not want to take all for granted, for that makes us dull and stale, and by doing this we lose our sense of proportion; but if we take nothing for granted and are ever ready to laugh at ourselves, we will not act as if the cares of the world were resting upon our shoulders, even if this were the case. But in view of this new spirit we can laugh at our own belief in our own importance in this scheme, as we have to realize first of all how small we are, only then we can carry on with the enthusiasm of Youth and try to put into practice some of our Ideals.

We do not want old, empty conventions. We want to find new ways of action. We don’t want empty words which mean, nothing, but we want to search for that which is real. We want to face ourselves and see the realities of life whether they be ugly or beautiful. But we can only: do this when we have the spirit of little children, and realize as Theosophists ought to do, the unity' of life. We know that whatever we do we will not stand alone – that there are those Greater Ones who are always holding out a helping hand to those who are willing and have sufficient courage to undertake, this big work of reconstruction in Their Name.

Theosophy in Australia, y1924 v30 i9 December p273

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