Posted by: Jim E | April 10, 2010

Become An Adult?…Whoa…

When I was growing up, I nor anyone else, had ever heard of the word, “teenager”…it was invented sometime around WWII…mostly after the war…it replaced or maybe is a synonym for adolescence…it is the “in-between”…between childhood and adulthood…

Anyway, it really didn’t exist before WWII…why???…it wasn’t until after the war that there was an economic boom in America…and families began to earn more… were much better off than before…so there was more time and money to spend on their children…and many wanted more for their children than they had…more opportunity…more education…more “things”…

Those that came back from war understood what they didn’t have before and wanted more for their children…they had experienced the depression…the war, with its privation…so they wanted something better…with that came kids with more time and money on their hands…

But I remember very well what it was like at the end of “what was before” and what came after the war…I and other my age were on the cusp of that change…but I still remember that I wanted to be an adult…I didn’t want to be a child…and wanted to learn from adults around me…how to “do it”…parents, grandparents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, etc…I posted a blog some time ago “Let Me Look Over Your Shoulder”…and it was about this time of my life…I ended it with this: All this to say about the adults in my life…I basically asked them all the way along…”Let me look over your shoulder”…because I was a child, a young person, a young man…and needed to become an adult…but I will never forget those that taught me by who they were…what they had become…I wanted that…and more than anything today, we need young people who want to learn to be adults and will still ask…”Let me look over your shoulder”…

I remember so well so many men I met that fought in WWII…not that they told me so much about it…but that they “served”…I respected that and wondered if I would every have that courage and commitment…just the other day I heard a young man talk about “his” generation…those in their teens and twenties…he made a comparison, maybe unfair, but he still made it…he compared the WWII generation and his own…he said something like this:…they worried about fighting the Nazis and my generation worry that their internet connection isn’t fast enough…

Now, I don’t necessarily agree that ALL of the younger generation has that kind of disconnect (pardon the pun)…because I know many who don’t fit that matrix…but there certainly are many…just check out the youth culture today…not really thinking about being an adult or taking on adult things…in fact the latest reflection of that is the health care bill, that says kids will be covered by their parents insurance until they are 25 or is it 26…I heard that and was shocked…I can see if they are in college they should be covered…it’s that way now but…just when does adulthood “kick in”???…

In Tom Brokaw’s book “The Greatest Generation”he remembers his mother telling him the story of the day Gordon Larsen came into the post office where she worked. Larsen was typically a cheerful and popular member of their community, but that day he had stopped in to complain about the rowdiness of the teenagers the night before, which had been Halloween. Brokaw’s mother was surprised at his tone and asked him good naturedly, “Oh Gordon, what were you doing when you were seventeen?” Gordon looked at her squarely in the eye and said, “I was landing at Guadalcanal.” He then turned and left the post office. These were men who were surely mature beyond their years.

It does worry me a bit that we are seeing a lack of thinking about serious things from younger people…but then I remember that we are in America…and though I see in the cities of this country such a lack of concern for one another and intercity schools failing one after another…I still have great faith in this country…I wish our leaders would spend a little more time on telling the American people how special we are…that we can do anything we really want to do…and instead of watching another year of American Idol or some such thing…maybe then we will see the very best of what we are…

And it is there…I spent most of my working life working with young people…and they were wonderful…I have great faith in this generation…as I have with all of the generations America has produced…do I have worries?…for sure…but if we have the right leadership…the right messages given to young people…America can straiten our path to the future…

I remember like it was yesterday…I was retiring from being a principal of a large high school…I loved my job and loved the kids…the staff…the community…and I had told them so over the years in as many ways as I could…it was my last senior awards night…parents and students, the best we had, were all there…I spoke that night not much different than I had many times before…that they could do anything…what their responsibilities were and were going to be…taking care of their families, their communities, to take care of the spiritual side of things, etc…

One of the senior boys came up to me after I spoke…he thanked me and told me that he wanted to be like me, and on he went…I thanked him…but I told him…”It’s not me, it’s you…you deserved all the credit…because you decided what you want to be…to be the person you want to be…it is inside you”…he was a fine young man…and he had made a decision…to be an adult…to take the best of what he had seen in “his world” and add that to himself…

Is it any wonder I have such hope for this country…and though things may not be as we would like…I still see hope…light for America…no matter how dark it may seem at times…

Ronald Reagan said it like this… “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”

And Jesus said it even better…“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”—Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16.

I love America…and have great faith in it’s people…


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