Our Failure

Meeting felt very long today, in part because my thoughts worked their way into a private dialogue on how our society has succeeded or failed. One criteria, from my point of view (of course) is how we treat our adolescents, our nascent adults. In that respect, we are failing.

We ignore them, hype them, market to them, glorify them and envy them. We sexualize, trivialize, terrorize and anesthetize them. We belittle them, load them with expectations and give them no support to achieve those expectations.

We’ve left them to deal with death, AIDS, sex, drug use and addiction, alcoholism, over-materialism and under-emotionalism. We’ve pampered them so that they can’t deal with disappointment; ignored them so that they have no idea what it means to be an adult.

And yet, despite all this, they survive. Some even thrive, and the majority will grow into adulthood and find some way to find love and meaning and the compassion to look out for one another. Some will because there are good adults in the world, and they bump into them and it sticks. Some will because that which is Good within them cannot be extinguished. And some will because they have been raised to do so.

This will not forgive us, though I hope they will.

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One response to “Our Failure

  1. i was talking to my cousin sarah, who is sixteen, last night. she was asking about the insanity of my schedule, etc, and then we started talking about high school–shes a sophmore. she was talking about the pressure she’s under and especially the pressure of her brother lyman, who’s a juinor (amopng other things, he is lyman 3. lymans 1 and 2 both went to harvard)
    i was trying to explain to her that the difficulities of high school do end, but that they stay with you for awhile afterwards, and that the sad thing to my mind is that high schoolers are so often pressured to GROW UP already, but its really the last time you have to be a child free from worries about adult things like taxes, health insurance, and such–and you never really get a chance to enjoy that last bite of freedom because of the constant pressure to do better, work harder, and decide what to do with the rest of your life–when really, you have no clue, and why should you?
    at any rate, all this to say that i linked her to this post, which the more i read it the more it resonated with me.

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