《经济学人》:最美好的时光-年青人的世界
日期:2011-09-22 11:43

(单词翻译:单击)

The world of adolescence
年青人的世界

The best days of their lives?
他们人生中最美好的时光?

What drives the young
是什么因素驱使着年青人成长

Sep 17th 2011 | from the print edition

Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood.
迷失于转型之途:成年早期的黑暗面

CHRISTIAN SMITH is a well-known sociologist of religion. That alone may deter the more deeply secular from reading his book, “Lost in Transition”, which explores the moral map of 18- to 23-year-olds in America. This would be a shame, as it is intensely and uncomfortably thought-provoking. It deserves consideration on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly from the parents of that generation.

克里斯汀史密斯是一位著名的宗教社会学家。仅仅因为那样也许会使更深入世俗的人们不读他写的书“迷失于转型之途”,这本书探究18至23岁的美国人的道德地图。这将是一件憾事,因为这本书会引起人们强烈地、不自在地深思。而且也值得大西洋两岸的人们思考,尤其是那一代人的父母。

A note about method first. Mr Smith (a professor at the University of Notre Dame) and his co-writers have been following the emerging adults on whom this study is based since 2001, when they were just young sprats. The authors have repeatedly surveyed a “nationally representative” sample of over 3,000 and personally interviewed a smaller number. This book relies primarily on intensive interviews in 2008 with 230 of the original group, many of them then in college or university.

本书的首页是关于调查方法的注释。自2001年以来,史密斯先生(一位圣母大学的教授)和他的合著者一直研究新一代的成年人,当时他们两位也仅仅是初出茅庐的小子。他们两位作者反复调查3000多个全国有代表性的人物,还亲自访问一些人。这本书主要信赖2008年访问的230个最初的小组,大部分人当时还在学院或大学就读。

Mr Smith starts from the observation, which few would dispute, that adolescents are slower to emerge into adulthood these days: they study for longer, they depend on their parents for longer and they marry later, if at all. The world of real work they eventually enter is not the world of stable, long-term jobs that previous generations knew. During that long transition they have unprecedented freedom—from unwanted childbearing, for example—and no particular reason to rush into commitments of any sort. Moral boundaries are less clear than they were; many young adults have been taught not just to tolerate other people’s views and behaviour but to see them all as equally valid.

史密斯先生从观察开始,观察表明如今的年轻人进入成年期的速度较慢,这一观点几乎没有异议:如果条件允许的话,他们求学的时间长,依靠父母的时间长以及结婚晚。他们最终的工作并不是上一代人认为的稳定、长期的工作。在这段漫长的转型时期,年轻人享受着前所未有的自由,例如,不用考虑生育,没有理由去仓促地做任何承诺。道德的界限也不太清晰;很多年轻的成年人被教育不仅仅要忍受他人的观点和行为,而是平等正当地对待他人。

In every age the transition to adulthood is a turbulent time. The message here is that in today’s world there is much that is fun, free and promising about this stage of life, but a dark side of apathy, confusion, loss and grief is less readily acknowledged. The book focuses on five areas: how young adults make ethical decisions; what role consumerism plays in their lives; why they drink so much; why they have sex so indiscriminately; and why, despite optimistic claims that Barack Obama awakened young people in 2008 as John F. Kennedy did their parents or grandparents, they are in fact disengaged from civic and political life. The answers in the first area foreshadow most of the rest. What is striking about the responses to a whole string of questions probing how these young people deal with moral issues is how few of them seem to grasp what is being asked. Murder, rape, bank robbery are seen as wrong. But what about cheating on exams, cheating on lovers, even driving drunk? They talk about whether they might be caught, how their friends would react, how they themselves might feel. Where it is a question of others’ questionable behaviour, a standard answer is that it is up to each individual to decide for himself. Very few seem to think that right and wrong are rooted in anything outside personal experience.

在每个时代,向成人期过渡的这段时期都是动荡不安的。这本书旨在说明如今人们都认为这段时期是充满快乐、自由和希望的,而很少会认为是无趣、困惑、迷失和悲伤的人生黑暗面。本书集中研究这五个领域:年轻的成年人如何做合乎道德的决定;用户至上主义在他们生活中处于什么地位;为什么他们喝那么多酒;为什么他们随意地与他人发生性行为;尽管巴拉克奥巴马在2008年时呼唤年轻人要乐观生活,正如约翰 F 肯尼迪唤醒他们的上一代一样,但是为什么他们还是不愿意参加公民政治生活。关于第一个方面的回答预示着本书接下去的大部分内容。一系列探究年轻人如何处理道德议题的问题的回答令人惊奇之处在于,他们之中能够领会所问的问题的人少之又少。他们认为谋杀、强奸、抢劫银行都是错误的。那考试作弊,对情人不忠,甚至醉酒驾驶呢?他们谈论他们是否会遭逮捕,他们的朋友会有什么反应,他们自己的感觉如何。当问到他人可疑的行为的问题出在何处,标准的答案是由各自决定。几乎没有人认为对与错是深植于个人经历之外的。

And so to consumerism. Shopping is personally fulfilling; buying things supports the economy (true enough); if you can afford it, you deserve it. Might it be just a tiny bit gross to own ten cars while others in your city are working double shifts to buy shoes for their children? Apparently not. The good life consists of having a decent job, a decent standard of living and a nice family, not of fighting for justice or saving whales.

对于用户至上主义也是如此。购物是一件令人高兴的事情;买东西可以推动经济发展(的确如此);如果你买得起它,那么你就值得拥有它。你拥有十辆车,而与你同城的人,他们为了给孩子买鞋却要做两轮班,难道你们的收入仅仅相差无几?显然不是这样。好的生活应该有一份合适的工作,一个相当好的生活标准和一个美满的家庭,而不是为公平和省钱奋斗。

As for the prevalence of drink and sex, peer pressure, advertising and the media play their part, but so too does sheer boredom. Many of the young women, in particular, look back with some regret on very early sexual experiences, and on later ones with virtual strangers. And as for politics, what emerges is a strong feeling of disempowerment and distrust. Relatively few young people think they know or can do much about what is going on, and most of those who do follow current events and vote seem to take things no further.

至于普遍的饮酒和性行为,来自同辈的压力,广告媒体各司其所,但是一旦泛滥,就肯定会令人感到厌倦。尤其是很多年轻的妇女,当她们回想起以前,就会后悔太早有性经历,随后就是后悔与虚幻的陌生人发生关系。至于政治方面,暴露出的现象是他们有一种强烈的被剥夺权利和不被信任的感觉。相对而言,很少的年轻人认为自己知道或可以为正在发生的事做贡献,大部分关注时事和投票的人似乎也没作进一步关注。

Yet “Lost in Transition” is not, in fact, a hand-wringing tale of gloom. Nor is the moral map it describes unique to America; there are many echoes in Britain, which was struggling even before its August riots to understand why so many young people seemed adrift. It is really a warning to parents. In the guise, often, of teaching tolerance, we are failing to ensure that our children understand how to frame moral issues and make judgments about right conduct and about what is good in life. The reason for this, Mr Smith suggests, is that we are not so sure ourselves.

然而,事实上,“迷失在转型之途”并不是对阴暗面的流言的绝望。也不是仅仅描写美国人的道德风貌;这也使很多欧洲人产生了共鸣,甚至在八月骚乱之前,欧洲已经致力于了解为何那么多年轻人好像都漫无目的的。这敲醒了家长们的警钟。我们常常只是在表面上教孩子如何宽容,但是我们却不能确保孩子们真的理解如何体现道德问题,以正确的行为做判断以及什么是生活中的善行。史密斯先生表示这其中的原因我们不太确定我们自己。

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重点单词
  • transitionn. 过渡,转变
  • stringn. 线,一串,字串 vt. 串起,成串,收紧,悬挂;系
  • optimisticadj. 乐观的,乐观主义的
  • distrustn. 不信任 vt. 不信任
  • originaladj. 最初的,原始的,有独创性的,原版的 n. 原件
  • sheeradj. 纯粹的,全然的,陡峭的 adv. 完全地,峻峭
  • peern. 同等的人,同辈,贵族 vi. 凝视,窥视
  • tolerancen. 忍耐力,宽容,容忍,公差
  • emergingvi. 浮现,(由某种状态)脱出,(事实)显现出来
  • understandvt. 理解,懂,听说,获悉,将 ... 理解为,认为