25 January 2012

Young Ones

I find it fascinating to hear people complain about just how bad our young people are, just how disrespectful they treat adults, just how awful our future is because these young ones never will be good leaders of respectful adults.  I've been working with young people for many years now, both in high school and in college, and I know from experience that most of the young people in the world are very good people who are only working hard at finding their ways through life--often without much guidance from the adults who so strongly disdain them.  The adults like to complain and criticize, but what about helping?  It doesn't happen nearly as often as it could or should.

The young people of today are just the same as young people have been forever.  They're working their ways through problems with relationships, friendships, school, parents, sex, temptations, confusion, mixed messages, and so much more.  They're also one of the first generations that have had to deal with a lifetime of television and the influence of highly invasive marketing.  They've been told some things by some sources, other things from others, and they're somehow expected to decide unerringly which of those messages are valid and which aren't.  We have very high expectations of them, but we give them less and less input as parents become busier and communities become more and more fragmented.

But my experience tells me that the adults of tomorrow want to be fair and true and honest and hopeful and compassionate.  They want to help other people, and they want to find work that is fulfilling for them.  They want to be productive members of society who are treated fairly and with respect, and they want to be respectful of others.  They are good people, and our future is bright because of them.

In the eighth century B.C., a man named Hesiod supposedly made the following claim:

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint."

Just as he was mistaken, so are the people now who complain about our young.  Let's start looking at the positive side of the kids of today so that we can treat them as they deserve to be treated--with dignity and respect--so that they'll grow to be dignified and respectful.


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