Lately I’ve seen quite a few Facebook posts bemoaning the sorry state of America’s youth. The verbiage differs, but the sentiment is the same: kids today are lazy, they don’t want to work, and are only interested in a handout.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. In a way, it’s not much different than any other “these damned kids” statement one generation might make about the next. These haven’t changed much since the dawn of humanity, and, as always, they say more about the person talking than who they’re talking about.
They sound like fear. And fear comes from ignorance. Here’s the thing: by and large, those deadbeat kids old people are worried about do not exist.
I do a lot of volunteering with teens and college-age young adults. Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of them from all kinds of social and economic backgrounds. I’ve never met a lazy one. Not one. Every young person I’ve worked with wanted to strive, to grow, to make the world a better place. Don’t you?
Spend five minutes watching the news. Those protestors are young, aren’t they? Do they look lazy?
It’s hard to make things better when we are fighting an imaginary villain. Maybe there really is a young person somewhere whose sense of entitlement outstrips their moxie. But it might also be the case that we have bigger things to worry about.
Maybe we should focus more on the jobs sent overseas by greedy companies. Maybe we should review the well-documented and countless cases of companies like McDonalds and WalMart not paying their employees a living wage. Maybe we should take a look at who is fighting any increase of the minimum wage, blocking the kinds of oversight that might protect working people, and making sure that a college education is prohibitively expensive.
I know that there is a lot of anger. I have some, too. But maybe some of it is misplaced. Young people are easy targets. They dress funny. Then again, so did we.
If we want change, the last thing we ought to do is take kids off the bus and throw them under it.