Thursday, April 29, 2010

Y is for Youth

The newspapers and TV channels are full of stories about directionless youth- the four college boys who taped a video of them sexually abusing a pre-teen and posted it on YouTube, the girl who lost control of her SUV and mowed down two people while consuming alcohol, the kids who kidnapped their best friend’s brother and killed him when they did not get the ransom money, the date rapes, the drunk driving, the lawlessness, the purposelessness. If you believe the media, there is no hope for the youth of the nation, and consequently for the nation itself.

But I cannot be that pessimistic. There is the girl who’s risen out of poverty and illiteracy, and dreams of becoming a lawyer. There is the boy who has a full-time job, plays sports at a competitive level, is studying for a college degree and still finds time to coach others in self-development. There is the girl who is the first female in her community to pass her school leaving exams, and who dreams big. There is the girl who refused to succumb to pressure from women much older than her, and stood firm for what she knew was right.

There are youth who seem to have lost their bearings, but there are also youth who have shown that their inner compass can weather all storms. As long as they are there, the future is in good hands.

Random Aside # 1
The other day, a collegue had on a t-shirt that said "if you swallow wet cement, you get stoned". Since it made no sense at all to me, I asked him to explain it. The guy gave a knowing smile, then proceeded to explain what ‘to get stoned’ meant.
I couldn’t see the point of it, so had to interject "Look, I may be old enough to be your mother, but I too was young once, and I definitely know what to get stoned means. All I wanted to know what was cement has to do with stone". He told me that when cement hardened, it became stone. The daughter-of-a-geologist in me took over, and I gave him a lecture on stone, the genesis of the various types of stones, and of how cement was in no way related to stone. He was literally squirming to get away, but I left him only after I thought I had sufficient revenge for being mistaken for a dinosaur. I wonder if he even realised how presumptuous he had been, and how rude.
He obviously considers me “old”. And I wonder if, when I was his age, I dismissed people of my age as being “too old to know anything”?

Random Aside # 2
And last night, I finally figured out why my six year old was losing so many chess matches – he kept sacrificing knights, rooks, castles and even his queen to protect his pawns. I tried explaining the hierarchy of chess men to him, and said, “if you have to sacrifice your pawn to get a knight do so, but never sacrifice your knight to get a pawn.”
“But”, he said in a confused tone. “isn’t the pawn the youngest of the chess men.”
When I nodded in affirmation he continued, “shouldn’t the young be protected? Why do you say I should let them die first?”
And guess what, he did have a point!

Image Credit - Wikimedia Commons


Mary McDonald said...

Aw, your son sounds so sweet!

As far as condescending youth, yeah, that's annoying, especially in this day and age where us dinosaurs are keeping up by reading the latest trends and such online.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Hmm, I would've whacked him one (not your son, the stone head).

Your son, on the other hand, sounds absolutely adorable.

Karen Walker said...

Oh, the wisdom of the young (your son, I mean). As for being a dinosaur, you have a long way to go, my dear, before you reach that stage. Wish I could have seen the look on that young man's face when you lectured him on what stone is versus cement.

Mason Canyon said...

Out of the mouths of babes. They seems to know so much more than we realize.

There also seems to be so much bad in the news about the youth. We rarely hear the good things that are being done by the youth. We need that more.

Thoughts in Progress


Your son has wisdom there, As you so rightly say there is much in the papers about the bad side of youth but do they write as much about the good? There are good and bad in all races around the world. I enjoyed reading your post , very informative and as always a pleasure to read.


Momo's Ma said...

hey nicely put, the struggles of the youth and the follies too. i too thought of writing on youngistan,but i could have never put my words in so beautifully. n ur son has made such a brilliant point.
btw, finally the end tomorrow. i have read all ur posts n each was a gem. didnt coment on a lot of them, but i used to wait for them eagerly.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great post. I get tired of hearing about the bad in the youth age group. Like you said, there's definitely good out there too.

I loved your son's point of view. You can't argue with that :)

Raquel Byrnes said...

Out of the mouths of babes...your son is right. We should be protecting the young ones. Sounds like a great kid.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hard to argue with your son's reasoning!

Grammy said...

Hey, Rayna! I find your son's comment so in keeping with the wisdom of small children, and their innate empathy for the underdogs. God bless 'em. Good for you for giving the young man who thought he was so smart, something tough to chew on.

slommler said...

Love the wisdom of your son!
Yes when you do hear the news of all the errant do pause and wonder. But I know there are those who are more than themselves. Who have dreams and aren't afraid to go after them. Those youths I applaud and am hopeful for the future because of them.

Lisa said...

Excellent post (I thought about posting on Youth, but didn't) and remarkable words from your little guy. :)

Marjorie said...

the bad stuff always makes the news while the good stuff gets burried. It's so wrong! I believe in the goodness of human beings as much as I know there is the capacity for evil.

If everyone played life like your son plays chess we would have a much better world. Think of it! Politicians, judges, presidents, kings and queens all willing to risk it all for the sake of our children.

Jemi Fraser said...

Okay - now I'm going to have to protect the pawns when I play chess! Great thinking :)

I work with kids and the vast majority are amazing and wonderful and silly and sweet. The few 'bad apples' get all the publicity though. Thanks for pointing out the other side!!

arlee bird said...

There's still plenty of good young people out there. The media just likes to exploit the bad because it seems more newsworthy.

The "stoned" T-shirt is not so bad compared to some of the truly vile things I've seen on shirts around here. I'm not sure how some of that qualifies for "freedom of speech".

As far as you being old, I don't know when the picture was taken that you have on your profile, but in no way do you look old.

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Watery Tart said...

I think it is our fear of becoming obsolete that causes us to slam youth so badly. I mean the violence is bad--it shouldn't be happening. But I think the older generation has ALWAYS pointed at youth as doing all these terrible things and pulled out the worst examples to prove it.

But yes... they should not be rude about it.

And if all the world thought as your Thing 1, we would have a much better shot at peace, wouldn't we. The powerful should protect the weak, and not the other way around.

dipali said...

Your son is so sweet- such a lovely POV!
As long as one is willing to learn at every stage in life, and especially from youngsters,A)you gain their respect and B) You allow them to enrich your life! All positive. The unfortunate youngsters are those who do not get the love, guidance and respect of their parents.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Mary - I do so agree with you on dinosaurs keeping up with things. A friend of mine went back to school at 35, and apparently the kids in her class kept ribbing her about not having a facebook account - she's actually been on orkut since the day it began!

@ Jessica - he did deserve that lecture on rocks, methinks

@ Karen - nothing like children to teach you the essential truths of life. And yes, the look on his face was worth it.

@ Mason - it is sad, isn't it? That everyone focuses on the negative (which is there), but not the positive. Individual kids are much more purposful and self-directed than we ever were

@ Yvonne - thank you.

@ M's Ma - I would have loved to read about Youngistan. I work for a non-profit that works with youth, so am always lapping up anything about that generation.

@ Jaydee - there is, isn't there?

@ Raquel - wouldn't it be great if the innocence of young kids is not allowed to get lost.

@ Alex - we actually apply those new rules now!!! Why not?

@ Ruby - I wonder if I was as condescending towards people when I was that old. I think not, but....

@ SueAnn - I so like what you say, that I am only going to say it again. "But I know there are those who are more than themselves. Who have dreams and aren't afraid to go after them. Those youths I applaud and am hopeful for the future because of them."

@ Lisa - thank you.

@ Marjorie - I wish they would write about good, because these youth can serve as role models to others not yet as directed as them. And wouldn't the world be a better place, if people realised that the weak need protecting, not the strong.

@ Jemi - kids these days are wonderful, aren't they? Smart, silly and sweet. And yes, we have changed the rules of the game in our house.

@ Arlee - which is the pity. If the media highlighted the good, those kids would serve as role models for others. Some t-shirts are pretty pathetic, aren't they? And while the picture was taken only a few months back, I can assure you that I am much older than I look in that particular picture :-)

@ Tami - Precisely. The generation that was vilified is now doing the vilefication. Weird!!! I think your Thing One, for instance, is a much more mature human being than I was when I was a couple of years older than her. And yes, I wish people realise that they should protect the weak, because they cannot protect themselves.

@ Dipali - So true! If you look at some of the mothers, it is no wonder so many kids are as they are.


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