A friend of mine who I respect sent me a link recently to a video done by someone named Bill Whittle in a program called Afterburner. I listened carefully to the whole thing, realizing that I could just chime in ‘yeah yeah, thats the ticket, rawr rawr rawr… like so many will… but there was something inside me rising up and railing… and here’s the what came out…
I have 4 boys. All of them are faced with a much different series of challenges than I faced:
1. School and Academic life is much more intense than it ever was for me. It’s more competitive, faster paced, and harder than I ever had it. And I went to some pretty high quality public schools in Illinois and Michigan. What I saw them faced with starting early and lasting throughout their school years blew me away. And yet they all worked hard, hung tough, took more challenging courses… Me, I was looking to get high and get by, take the classes I could ace, and do whatever required the minimal effort. (Until College where that abruptly changed)
2. There’s the prospect of none of them ever even coming close to the earning potential I had, which I believe places an additional burden on them because they did grow up with certain perks and privileges, and have had to give up a great deal, just as I did, in order to be able to even attend a college.
3. A college education used to be a slam dunk for a better job. This changed during the 80’s when many people discovered that a bachelors degree no longer landed them a job, period. There was a time then when business minded young people could get into sales,or if they were entrepreneurial start a business… Soon though, the cost of a college education skyrocketed. So, for the bulk of young people who aren’t business-y they’re gonna be saddled with loans and debts even for the basic jobs.
4. College is a 6 figure investment, mid to high 6 figures if they go to grad / professional school, and they will have to borrow again to buy or open a business. Their debt service is unbelievable. I cant imagine the stress they must have just in trying to launch a career. As a father I certainly don’t have the necessary start up, college or grad school funds they would need or I’d give it to them. So, they’re having to borrow money, and they will have to pay back that money with interest, during the years when their businesses and careers can least provide them income. And interest rates aren’t 3% on student loans now — more like 7, 8, 9%. This is insane, given that the prime is what in the vicinity of 1%. Banking and lending profit margins are at record highs. It’s so out of alignment that I can’t imaging I would today undertake what I did given these circumstances. I would drop out and be pissed and go protest in a park.
5. I resent the stereotypic attitude that these young people are lazy and spoiled and surly and need to go camping. My kids all were raised on camping, the outdoors, in spite of all of them being bookish and intellectual, unlike their dad, the jock. Don’t blame the kids for their overprotective mother’s mistakes. Camping is camping, period. Take a kid who hates camping on a camping trip and guess what. They still hate camping. They all needed computers, and a variety of technology just to keep up. My parents RANTED at me when I dropped a hundo on a good pair of hiking boots in college. I hiked in em, heck I lived in em. It’s all the same; we get the things we need, we want the things we want. Besides, if you can’t be lazy, surly, and wildly liberal in your early 20’s then you never will. That’s the time in life when you should be good and pissed off at authority and old people and the wealthy. Resent their lifestyle, resent their crooked politics and resent their hypocritical viewpoints. Shine a big old light on that when your young, and a miracle happens… you finally understand how this country works.
6. So, I have 4 boys all of whom are hard working, and not at all entitled. They’re not hard working like I was where I had a paying job beginning at 15, they are all AP class taking ‘scholarship’ earning students. They’re all studious yet fun loving. There’s not a slacker among them. All of them are developing interests in a career based less upon having a huge home, but upon doing something they like and that will afford them a decent lifestyle, and that they won’t regret 20 years later. I totally respect that. Their girlfriends are the same way.
Rather than stereotype and criticize, I say we have to put names and faces on the young people. Get to know some, I think you’ll find they’re just people. They’re as varied as we adults are. Some are fantastic and make me excited for the future. Some, just like our generation are completely self absorbed and entitled – they face a tougher challenge – the world failing to meet their needs.
They don’t need a camp outing.. What they need is the freedom to protest, even if it’s lame, and then to continue to learn and grow… I don’t understand why people don’t get it, and why people need to fix it… What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing. Whats the best? Positive change.
So, that’s where I’m at.
Here’s the original video link http://www.youtube.com/embed/OAOrT0OcHh0?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent