There is a lot of buzz around these fruited plains focused on the concept that we are now a nation divided.
We are divided by political affiliation, race, gender, faith and ethnicity. We are divided over Android and iPhone, climate-change believers and non-believers, sports teams and streaming networks. If there is any way we can break off into camps and attack each other over our differences, well, by gum, we’ll do it.
This isn’t even really a new development. We have historically argued over voting rights, the ability to own other human beings as property, if we should get involved in other nations’ wars and if Miller Lite is better because it tastes great or is less filling. I’m pretty certain, based on all facts presented to me (which I am making up as I type these words), that we once argued over if our flag was red, white and blue, or blue, white and red.
Is it necessarily worse today than in earlier generations? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? I mean, we did once break off into two militaries and kill each other. That would make it appear as if we have indeed sunk lower than we are today.
But the division of the present is more visible than before. We now have 24-hour “news” stations where, absent some actual breaking news, talking heads spit unsubstantiated rhetoric back and forth at each other while a moderator jumps on one side or another, depending on the network. And we have the Internet.
Oh, do we have the Internet.
Look, I’m a Web junkie. I spend hours each evening perusing the Internet with the television on as background noise, shuffling between news sites, fantasy football information, poker forums and
the Brazilian bikini team how to become a better man. I enjoy seeing what family and friends are up to on Facebook, and I’m constantly checking on the weather — largely because my lush hair gets so darn frizzy when it turns humid outside.
But those comments? Yikes. Go to any story on thehill.com or politico.com or any of the other sites that cover American politics. Jump to the comments on someone’s Facebook post that has any hint of politics, sports, race or what that individual had for breakfast. It’s like a breeding ground for all things repugnant. Want to take it up a notch? Click on the “replies” to any of those statements. It’s like you walked into another dimension — a dimension of illiteracy and insipid vulgarity. Sometimes I wonder if Facebook wouldn’t be better off including a crayon font so you can tell right away if it’s something worth reading or just the childish rantings of...
But I digress.
And I didn’t mean to use “childish” in a disparaging way. In fact, there seems to be another disturbing trend out there today that focuses on belittling young people in society.
“Kids today are lazy.” “Young people don’t have any respect anymore, especially for themselves.” “Kids just want a safe place and don’t want to have to do anything.” “Kids today are entitled and expect everything to be handed to them.”
And that’s hot garbage.
For starters, older generations have been saying that about younger generations since Ugga Mugga forgot to take the dinosaur bones out to recycling one night. It’s as American as apple pie and revolving credit debt.
We’re talking about kids. It doesn’t really matter if it’s 2017 or 1917 — kids are kids. I remember my father sometimes looking at me like he wanted to cause significant bodily harm because I had two half-eaten sandwiches on my bedroom floor and a gym sock that was once white stuck to a wall in a corner. I once quit a job in high school because it was nice outside. I just went out for lunch and ended up drinking
beer lemonade with my friends at a park while we shot baskets.
So, yeah, young people can sometimes do things that make older people scratch their heads. And, let’s face it, older people get stuck in their ways and forget what they were like when they were younger.
For every story my father told me about how he held seven jobs when he was 9 years old and still came home to clean up the house and do his parents’ taxes before studying for seven hours and getting a good night’s sleep, I heard two stories from his friends about my dad not doing his homework or wild parties they attended.
Young people are young people, and they are going to do young people things, regardless the generation. And there will always be those few that defy their chronological ages and impress.
Did you see anything about Frank Giaccio last week? The 11-year-old boy from Falls Church, Va., reportedly wrote a letter to President Donald Trump expressing his admiration for Trump’s business acumen, and shared that he already ran his own lawn-care business. Giaccio was invited to come mow the lawn in the Rose Garden, and got to spend some time with the president. That’s pretty impressive.
As are the kids who show honor, dedication and hard work when they work for their Eagle Scout designation. And the kids who fill our pages every few months for earning honors in school. And the kids who mentor younger kids, or those the same age who just need a little guidance.
Look at our military. It’s filled with young people who voluntarily sign on to risk their lives in defense of others. Or fire fighters. Or police officers. These jobs are seemingly more and more dangerous by the minute, but young people keep signing up to serve.
There’s a lot of good out there today, and a lot of it comes from people we all-too-often write off as being from a “lazy” generation. Save the hate. Life’s too short.