If so, it is a fault that the world should remedy. Not that the young man should not prove himself before the world accepts him; not that he should not win his spurs before he is knighted. No one insists that he shall “make good” more than I do. But in the testing of him, let us give him the help of our kindly attention. Let us lend him the encouragement of our applause as he rides into the lists.
Countless young men have been needlessly discouraged by the indifference of the occupied and the sneers of the calloused. Let us not be so chary of our sympathy. Faith in most young men is a much safer hazard than infidelity. For all things strong and pure and helpful to the world may be possible of those young fellows who must, in any event, very soon possess the earth.
So let not the frost of the world’s unconcern fall upon young manhood’s unfolding powers. Let us beware how we extinguish the feeblest of youth’s idealisms. Let us check not the onset of his knight-errantry. And the world does these things—not purposely, not even knowingly, but thoughtlessly. Many a young man has had his life’s work kept back and the ardor of it chilled by rebuff at the beginning.
Many another has had his faith in God and humanity and the effectiveness of the eternal verities in the world’s work enfeebled and even shattered by what he felt was the world’s disbelief in them. No statistician can collect and classify the instances of young lives impaired by the heedlessness and insensibility of the mature to the beatitudes which glorify all youth.
This attitude of the world toward young men is not caused by any distrust of them or by any undervaluing of the high qualities of the true, the beautiful, and the good which the young man brings to it. Let no young man get the idea that the world of society and affairs is “down on him,” to borrow the phrasing of the people again. Let him never for a moment feel that this world of experience and present power does not believe in him.
For the world does believe in you, young man. It is not “down on” you. It is busy, that is all. It is engaged with the numberless and pressing concerns of its from-day-to-day existence. It is forgetful, no doubt, but its apathy does not go deeper than that.
With this caution to the young man that he may not misunderstand what is here written, I appeal to men and women, in whose faces the years have etched the lines and wrinkles of knowledge and understanding, to give more attention to young men; to encourage the nobilities of them; to reach down a helping hand from your secure station on the heights to him who struggles upward toward you.
It will not hurt you, sir or madam, to closely watch for signs of developing power in the young men of your acquaintance and to cultivate that growing strength by your active and aggressive faith in the young giant whom you have thus discovered.
Men and women there are who search minutely for unknown powers in plant-life, and by infinite pains in the use of that power, when found, evolve newer, higher, and better types of fruit and flower. And this is a good work. Men and women there are who sweep the infinitudes of the skies that they may find a star hitherto unseen, or steal unawares upon a hidden planet or a flying comet swiftly, yet stealthily, emerging upon the field of the telescope’s vision.