Heraclitus or maybe it was Herodotus complained about the graffiti scribbled on the walls of the Coliseum or maybe it was the Parthenon. But it seems to be a rule: The older generation complains about the younger generation.
I am old enough to have heard friends and colleagues expressing the same critical, negative opinions about ‘kids today’ or the latest crop of new graduates for many years now. Generally, the criticism covers everything from dress, manner of speech and music to lack of work ethic and ambition.
We don’t have kids and we live, as they say, in the middle of nowhere. As a writer, it’s great because the only distraction is television and it’s quite simple to turn off the TV. Recently, though, I’ve been traveling out of our reclusive nest and have been around people of all ages; specifically those in or just out of their teens.
And I don’t see what I’m supposed to see. At least for the small, admittedly small sample of four that I spent time with a few weeks ago in Texas, the younger generation seemed familiar…as in recognizable.
Their concerns seemed to be the ones I had at that age:
What do I want to do?
How can I make more money?
Should I go to graduate school? If I do, will it be worth my time and money?
These four were without exception, curious,very serious about their last year in college or their upcoming years in high school. They were polite, thoughtful and open. I was there doing a reading from my book- each stayed throughout the reading, seemingly engrossed to the point of many good questions about writing.
What are the challenges?
What are the toughest hurdles?
With a few, I took a few long walks in the Austin summer heat and listened some more.
Been thinking of medical school, now, not so sure.
We want to get married and raise a family.
I tell my friends, that’s not a drug you are looking at, that’s the devil.
Maybe it makes a difference, I was, after all, in Texas, and the west is distinctly and decidedly different for adults from the east therefore it makes sense that the kids would be different as well.
But for me? Kudos to the younger generation; our planet is in good hands. Specifically though, kudos to Blake and Sarah, about to start their fourth year at Texas A&M, Kyle, about to start his first year at A& M, Brandon who has had a tough go of it during his mid-teen years but is taking a heroic stance against the drugs he once embraced, and fourteen year old JT, starting high school and at fourteen, having to fight off all the girls. It was a distinct pleasure to be around these young people last month, hear their concerns and listen to their dreams.
Their music is great too: Listen to the the lyrics of Brave:
Why don’t you tell them the truth? Say what you wanna say. And let the words fall out. Honestly I wanna see you be brave. With what you want …