You might remember that the voting age was lowered to 18 some years ago; part of the reasoning being that we sent young people to war at that age; so we should at least give them the chance to vote on whether they should go. I am intimately connected to “young people” since I see them wandering by, often reminding me of fallen leaves after an autumn storm floating by on the way to the sewers, during my duties at Chik-fil-A two or three times a week. Wildebeest are more alert and oriented to their surroundings, lemmings have more individual personality and ducks are more aware of what goes on in the world.
These are the people we have entrusted with some say in our governance, if not now then in a year or two…just in time for another dose of hope and change. These are the people whom our teachers and their administrators have been “preparing” to take over the place.
Well, they…we…have failed both them and us.
I can’t blame the children, innocent and ignorant, abysmally so. They have been left that way, abandoned by their parents and everyone above the age of 35, like that infant on the road in Raising Arizona, while we have gone off in search of Shangri-La in a TV tube or tanning booth.
I know some youngsters, members of the generation behind the generation behind me. They work hard at what they do, and what they do earns them in the neighborhood of 200k p/a w/out bonuses. They will be very rich by the time they are 45. They are also totally unconnected to much that has happened in history before their graduations; and unable to understand what is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false beyond matters of mutual consent. Oh, they know good wines already, and good places to go on vacation. They know good cars, even good sunglasses, and their parents are sublimely proud of the work they have done.
How, I ask, could this have happened? A couple of weeks ago, while I was waiting for someone I sat reading a book, The Brothers Karamazov. I can remember hearing about that book while I was in grade school. As I sat quietly, a nice woman about my age I suppose, three score or more, approached me and asked what was I reading that had me so occupied. “I like to read” she said.
When I told her, showing her the cover of the much abused penguin paperback, she got a blank look on her face. “the Brothers Kar…” she began questioningly. I finished the title for her. “What is it about?” I tried my best to answer as the light faded from her eyes and her friendly smile disappeared. “Oh,” she finished. “It must be good to be so long.”
Not too long ago, again while reading in public, I was asked what was the name of the book I was so wrapped up in. Responding that it was a biography of Whittaker Chambers I was met with a blank stare. I do not know if the blankness was due to toe word biography or the subject of the book.
I am as sure of this as I am sure my feet end in toes, that if I queried one hundred of the young people at the mall at any given time about those two books I would find less than one who knew them both, or what they were about.
We’ve done that to them, and worse, and by extension to ourselves.
The only good thing about this pile of stuff we find ourselves in these days is we seem to have awakened to the mess we’ve landed in, and may finally be ready to begin the work of cleaning out the stable.
But, I doubt we can remember where are the tools and how they are to be used. And, damn few people I know want to take the time to learn.