“It is never a good sign when adults defer to children and when an angry placard becomes a manifesto for government.” – The Telegraph
After a sustained bought of expensive repairs, my daughter recently advised me to buy a new vehicle. Though appreciative of her desire to contribute, my eagerness to act on her advice was tempered by an awareness of her fiscal prudence, our family’s financial situation, and the rapid depreciation of new vehicles. Even if she had bolstered her logic with tears, multi-syllabic words, and such eloquence that a ten year old is capable of, the bottom line remains that she simply doesn’t understand all of the issues at stake in a situation like this.
I wasn’t angry with her, nor did I doubt her sincerity. But I did choose to ignore her advice.
And so it is in light of what I supposed was common sense that I am increasingly confused at the weight our nation seems to be placing on the opinions of young people. As a case in point, you may have heard of the 16 year old Swedish girl who recently took it upon herself to fly over to a U.N. council in order to address the failures of world government as it concerns climate change.
Now, I am all for the objectivity of young eyes, and the innocent reminders of idiocy which adults tend to overlook; and here let’s just just acknowledge the heap-load of idiocy that goes on in world politics.
There’s a problem however, when we allow teenagers – a population not known for their measured, informed, reflective powers – to contribute and hold sway over public policies that are anything but straightforward. And governments comfortable with even the pretense of deferring to youth as it concerns such issues certainly isn’t the next step in social evolution everyone seems to think it is.
Why? Rich Lowry comments with jarring accuracy: “”With very rare exceptions, kids just repeat back what they’ve been told by adults — with less nuance and maturity.” And, I might add, with less respect and appropriate deference. So the best we can hope for in a brave new world of teen intervention is redundancy – and the worst we could expect is the hijacking of impressionable minds by adults with their own pet agendas.
Do I want to belittle teenagers? Not a bit. Would I love to see more youth demonstrating the kind of responsibility commensurate to their experience, authority, and stage of life? Absolutely.
But the reality, as far as I can tell, is that fewer and fewer young people in this generation can demonstrate the kind of character it actually takes to change the world. Few seem to comprehend sacrifice or the value of hard work; few see the importance of being able to have a rational discussion with someone who differs from them on an issue. Few understand that their constant need to be actualized through ‘making a difference’ is driving them into all kinds of causes which, quite frankly, are way out of their depth.
Instead, young people have been taught that any number of evils are the one true crisis of our age; a failure to accept differences, a failure to let go of tradition, a failure to get with the times, a failure to affirm the obvious fact that our world is doomed at the close of the decade. And then they are told that it is within their power, indeed – within their duty – to single handedly change them.
But just as it wouldn’t be “empowering” to give a thirteen year old a machine-gun and direct them to the front lines, so it isn’t a kindness to set the weight of the world on shoulders that shouldn’t have to bear it.
In all of this, the one true crisis of our age has been overlooked – namely, the failure of leaders and guardians – those elected to govern – to do their jobs. A world that looks to their young people for leadership and protection, will soon no longer be one worth living in.