by Gbenga Sogbaike
And as if to further perfect the conspiracy against eighteen-year-olds, the world system has agreed that only people of that age and older are capable of committing crimes
The age eighteen is perhaps the most definitive and important in the life of human beings. It is the age that is widely believed to signal the cusp of maturity and reason as well as the threshold of manhood and womanhood alike. In other words, it is the starting point of the teenager’s ascendance to adulthood.
As such, it is an age conceived to be ripe for the formation and solidification of values; when the youth get opinionated and even self-willed. So ‘true’ is this fact that the universal adult suffrage is pegged at this age.
As the world progresses in modernization, technology and governance, the people of this age (18), have found themselves drawn along – albeit forcefully and unprepared. The world in its usual habit of providing unguarded incentives has offered them unrestricted freedom, premature exposure, and an amplified and flatulent status of the all-knowing and self-sufficient, a situation which has culminated into sexual perversion, a very high crime rate and an endless stretch of vices. They have unfortunately been condemned.
It is therefore a rule of thumb to see pornographic contents, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and so on labeled “18”. And as if to further perfect the conspiracy against eighteen-year-olds, the world system has agreed that only people of that age and older are capable of committing crimes. Any deviant below that age is considered a Minor and therefore incapable of committing a crime.
It is, however, the belief of this Writer that maturity is not solely or even mainly a function of age, neither is intellectual capability. Making informed and guided decisions should not be misconstrued as being a corollary of age, which to a large extent just happens to be merely the number of years one has lived on planet Earth. This is the simple reason why a-26year-old heads a company, while a-62year-old mans the gate. Nevertheless, as much as this piece does not seek to discount the importance of age in shaping character and personality, it rather opines that it is just one of the many factors that shape a person.
We must realize that the myth surrounding the age “18” seeks to hold other factors constant – a practice only possible in largely inapplicable economic theories. Hence it is insufficient to accord responsibility, devolve power, repose confidence and give unguarded freedom to an individual (or group of individuals) simply because s/he is eighteen years old.
It is evident that the world social order has not been completely fair to the eighteen-year-olds. It is very unfair to have saddled this group of young people with responsibilities and expectations far greater than their age and minds – or so it seems. They carry a burden too heavy for their shoulders. These people have been given the license to do and undo, to destroy and to build, to live and to die. Sadly, this license has been deployed more to the negatives than positives.
In addition, they are too quickly let out into the world – over-rated and overblown- and even though they possess the potentials and ingenuity to make a better world, the lack of adequate restraint, control and guidance of their bloom has paradoxically turned around and out to be their very undoing. So while their youthful exuberance and intelligence could have helped in creating a better world, the haste and ill-preparedness with which they took on the world (or life) coupled with the protection and guidance the world system has failed to offer them formed a synergy of forces strong enough to undo them. It is indeed a mixed fortune to be eighteen in this present time.
Gbenga Sogbaike is a multi-genre writer and a sociologist. He is a firm believer in the positive outcomes of harnessing the energy, vibrancy and ingenuity of the youth. He tweets from @gbengasogbaike.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.