Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Kids These Days

It’s almost common knowledge that kids these days don’t respect their elders. Indeed, it’s as predictable as the sunrise that aging wags will rail against the generations behind them as entitled and lazy, prone to whining and a lack of appreciation for us gray beards to had to work for everything, applying our noses to the grindstone, doing with less, yet enjoying it more. They don’t appreciate what they have. They don’t know what hard work is. And their manners and taste in music are atrocious.

Today, the main target is those “self-absorbed” millennials who aren’t up to snuff and even those of us who tend to believe that the younger generation is in many ways better, more attuned people than we were at their age, find ourselves nodding along sometimes in the hubris of our “wisdom.” We make jokes about their concerns, tending to admire their passion while feeling a bit smug in the belief that we have dealt with much more serious issues.

But what incredible jerks we are. When I look at the world we adults have created, it’s a wonder they show us any respect at all: we’ve made an environmental crisis, concentration camps, grinding poverty, wage slavery, full prisons, and rampant obesity. What do we have to be proud of? It’s hard to argue that we are owed their respect, except in the sense that all humans are owned respect.

Oh sure, some of us have worked and are working to combat those things, but it’s clear that we are either too few or else criminally ineffective. No matter what we’ve done or plan to do, we are leaving the youth of today in a house ablaze.

Among our failures is an educational system that is borderline abusive, placing incredible burden on children to retain more and faster, according to an artificial schedule monitored by high stakes tests and standardized curricula. The result has been unprecedented levels of stress and mental illness. It’s almost as if, as a last ditch effort, we’ve turned to pounding on these kids in the hope of creating a generation that will save us from ourselves, only to find that we’re instead burning up their youth in an effort to make them in our own failed image.

Maybe it’s not the youth who need to start respecting us, but the other way around, and not simply because all humans are deserving of respect no matter how small, but rather because at this late date the kids are probably the only ones who have a chance of saving us from the mess we’ve made.

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