[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—With . no other qualification
than that of being also an Under Thirty, may I enter the lists of the discussion over the article of " Under Thirty—VI ?
It seems to me unfortunate that the world should be so sharply divided into. Under and- Over Thirties ; this division obtains so strongly today that it often blurs chances of agreement between " youth " and "-age " when there is no fundamental discrepancy. It is artificial, but, once established, A leaves no alternative to upholding one's point of view to the bitter end, even if this sometimes entails making out a stronger case than is strictly necessary in order to produce an all- inclusive view of life. In this respect I should like to make one suggestion to Voice VI, the author of an otherwise admirably logical article : she may find herself mistaken in believing that intimate friendships alone bring one happiness. What is more brittle than human nature, what is frailer than human affection ?
It is a pity that Mr. Angus Watson does not see that the differences of outlook between the Under and the Over Thirties are often merely superficial. Has it not occurred to him that because we do not openly acknowledge ourselves " co-workers with Destiny," we are nevertheless aware of our impending destiny ? We are working towards a goal though it may suit us not to proclaim it with impassioned voice from the house- tops. Besides, if we do not reach it (and the advent of another war would eliminate our chance of success) is it not better to be able then to pretend that we have not been seeking it ? Let the Over Thirties conceive it possible that the Under Thirties sometimes enjoy a game of pretending.
Or again, it is consoling to reflect that those who hope for nothing never run the risk of being disappointed : a refuge from reality, admittedly, but surely we must all honestly recognise the fact that we do keep some refuge at the back of our minds for the day when our hopes crash ?
And may I point out that the writer of " Under Thirty—VI "
is engaged in administrative work ? Is this not a proof that she is actively occupied in bringing nearer the goal of a true civilisation of humanity ? If Mr. Macnaughton had noticed this, he would have seen that he had no grounds for implying that she is " typical of the person who is superficially acquainted with the real problems " and does nothing but " sit tight and express horror at the world situation."
To conclude by returning to my original point : the division
between Under and Over Thirties being constantly emphasised, the Over Thirties are forced-into dividing the Under Thirties into those who work for the improvement of the world, Communists, Socialists, &c., and those who merely sit back and groan ; and, worst of all they usually condemn the first group as impractical fanatics and regard the second with an admittedly legitimate dis- approval. Can they not see that they over-simplify the situation, and that there are thousands of earnest young men and women who are striving towards the same end as themselves, but who are so horrified by all the misery round them that they cannot parade an optimism which they do not feel and which would not be honest, for it could only be founded on. sand ? And I should like to assure Mr. Watson that this horror does not entail fear : the present generation is not afraid, as he observes of one member ; it is only uncertain whether the present turmoil is the prelude to a finer civilisation or to disaster. And does not working for a goal which is still veiled with a thin mist entail a grain of that faith without which humanity could not survive ?—Yours faithfully,