I believe the children are our future. No question about it. I strongly support youth activism and young adults being more involved in policy.
that said, I am sick to bits of this obsession with youth in our culture. While there is no question that my daughter looks better in her bathing suit than I do, I love aging. I love my world opening up in new ways – the same way it has since I was little. I kinda like my grey hair, and while my body has prompted me with all kinds of challenges, I meet them and appreciate what they bring to my life. I loved being 20 and I loved being 30, but I can tell you, I don’t want my 20 or 30 year old self deciding my future. I just didn’t understand many things that are wildly important to me now. Each phase of life has so many gifts, and the gifts of energy and beauty that youth have so powerfully are really delicious in service of some of the wisdom gleaned by elders. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is an excellent example. Although, fighting for a world of equality seems like a no-brainer – and one inherent to most kids. How “civilization” has devolved into consumerism is tragic. It’s a world gone mad and literally on the verge of destroying itself. It reminds me of piñatas. Man, I had one piñata at one birthday party and i would never do it again. Those 4 year olds were so manic about getting as much as they could. It was creepy. It feels like that mentality grew up and got in control of business and government.
Right now in our culture, it looks to me like parents are more afraid of their kids than intent on nurturing these beings into bright, caring, confident creators. In trying to set them up for success, it feels a lot like we’re stripping them of their individuality and innate connectedness in favor of making them look appealing to colleges or employers. At, like, 5. That there’s crazy talk, and it’s an epidemic. It may be that I’ve pulled too far away from this model, but I am very pleased to unplug from the idea that children have to conform to be acceptable or discover their gifts. And the “get what you can” mentality (as represented by the piñata) is noplace I’d like to live. I’ve seen kids organize masses of candy so that everyone gets some and there is some left over. Those are kids who have been cultivated by adults who have raised them to be cooperative instead of competitive. It’s lovely to watch. Because not only does everyone get the candy and have some fun in the process, but they had discussions about the merits of individual candies, tried another person’s favorite to see how it related to their candy-enjoying priorities. The event only took a few moments (like a piñata) but the kids expressed themselves, listened to each other, experimented, problem-solved and all came away with some, and more left over for teachers or visitors (this was at the international school where my dear nephew, Brent attended). It was a journey of discovery instead of a free-fall into ‘get all you can and f#@ everyone else.
It’s the context. The difference between piñata mentality and cooperative mentality is something that caring adults bestow upon (and at the same time draw out of) young people, and young people take it and make it even richer and more through their own unique contribution. Put the two year olds in charge and you have pandemonium. Give the two year olds safety and guidlines and boundaries, and while they’ll break some, they’ll flourish in the rest and be absolutely adorable doing so.
Sorry for the rant. Really, this came up in the context of the prefrontal cortex running the show in our bodies. It’s the youngest part of the human organism and we’ve let it take off and control everything and it’s wreaking havoc. The full system is valuable – all the parts. The cognitive brain is amazing in service of really any goal, but it service of itself it’s a freaking 2 year old, but infinitely less cute.
We are in such a weird part of history. We’ve fragmented the stages of life and put some above others. Brothers and sisters, we are a whole; and until we start acting like one we’re stuck with a dysfunctional society.