There’s this Facebook meme doing the rounds called “Word’s for teenagers”. At first I thought it had some good points. Sure it’s a Judge having a rant, so I made some allowances for it being a little intolerant. Especially of youth. Especially as he has to convict them all the time. Then I thought about it some more. Now, while we ALL know some teenagers that probably need this rant (below) tatooed onto their foreheads, I’m still troubled by it. Disturbed in fact.
Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth…..”Always we hear the cry from teenagers ‘What can we do, where can we go?’…My answer is, “Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.” In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you.
The problem is that it’s one big finger pointing at the bored kid who acted out in some socially unacceptable fashion, and that big finger just says it’s YOUR FAULT! And no doubt many things are their fault. But here’s something the Judge doesn’t have:-
- Peer pressure that is so overwhelming it feels like the end of the world when your group turns their back on you for being uncool.
- Raging hormones that tell you the world is fine one moment, and falling apart the next.
- Massive identity questions, and every corporation in the world eagerly trying to shape your identity moving forward into the future. The Judge knows who he is. This (hypothetical) kid doesn’t know he is, has never earned a serious pay-cheque or balanced the books or had to say no to a door to door salesman or maybe even kissed a girl yet.
But worse than all this basic life development stuff is the fact that today is an era crying out for role models that actually inspire kids. Who do they turn to? Action heroes? Comic book stereotypes? With divorce rates as high as they are, marriage and parenthood are probably not being modelled. With alcoholism and gambling and TV addiction and substance abuse as high as they are in the adult population these kids are meant to look up to… is it any wonder kids today look for the easy quick fix, and long for entertainment and escape? Because they are on the run. They’re on the run from themselves and their identity problems, from their parent’s divorce, from their parent’s generation failing to solve global problems like global warming and energy security and saving the tiger and whales and fresh water supplies and poverty and malaria and everything else we see on the messed up TV every night. So while the Judge certainly can point his finger at this hypothetical kid, there’s a finger pointing right back, asking who this Judge is and what he’s done to help make this world a place the kid actually wants to belong to.
Because when you think about what the last 2 generations have done to this kid’s future, with global warming and peak oil and biodiversity loss and rainforest destruction and bland suburban sprawl robbing the kid of any real connection to his neighbourhood, then isn’t this really a case of the pot calling the kettle black?