For You, My Children
As the reality of this election sinks in, I find myself falling back into that place where I was when my first and only relationship ended. It surprises me that it was two years ago, probably since I did such a grueling job of burying what past I had in order to move forward. It was a difficult experience in my life, and it took a long time to recover, to realign my priorities, and to refocus any shortsightedness for the big picture.
A large part of that big picture is the next generation.
To me, anyone around my age has already been proven, in that their maximum potential has been realized or at least estimated to a certain extent. That is, we already know what we want to be, what we want to do, and what we are ultimately capable of doing. It is slightly sobering to think that I won’t be able to do things that I want to do (perhaps do a back-flip or other stunts), though some still chase those dreams – whether in frivolity or earnestness. More power to them.
The coming generation, however, is still yet to be realized.
I tutor fifth graders at an after-school learning center, and their lives are full of possibilities. They are sharper, smarter, more discerning – but they still retain that child-like quality that unlocks creativity, improvisation, and discovery. I like to think that they are clever, but not yet conceited. They hold the keys to the future, and maybe someday, children of my own will be in their shoes, looking up to their role models to be whatever they want to be.
And therein lies the concern. Is there going to be a fertile future for this next generation to flourish? Have we essentially scrubbed our fields so that only a few chosen can survive? What is going to happen to this next generation?
I fear for them: for their safety, well-being, sound-mindedness, empathy, sense of responsibility, civility, and the list extends onward. Their environment for development is much harder than when I was raised and educated, and it continues to complicate. Sure, technology has made it easier to learn, but it has also made it easier to ridicule or be ridiculed. Modern society has become more tolerant, but having passion that potentially upsets complacency risks making one the exposed nail. On top of it all, there are still remnants of older times that I cannot believe still exist.
I have a professor that insists on having a personality over being an effective educator. Arguing with him on his side comments has had no effect, and has made class time that much more unbearable. He also mentions that the evolution of cinema requires no screenplay, which has been a real selling point to all the screenwriters. (Sarcasm, in case you didn’t catch that.) In effect, he has taken his own personal agenda of making movies great again by puffing up his own ego and stuffing it down the students’ throats.
It is difficult, to say the least, to accept or take in his teachings, let alone like the man. However, I would argue that the students who have found his rhetoric as condescending – as well as those who have not – have become stronger as a result. Not only because this windbag has stoked a fire under our asses, but more importantly, great teachers have stood alongside and encouraged us that we can still do something great. Their kindness has made us, their next generation, better.
My hope is that I can instill the same resolve in my students and the next generation, even amidst these trying and unknowable times. In a way, it is over for my generation, but theirs is only beginning. As such, they should better themselves, but not at the expense of others. They should never give up hope or succumb to taking the cheap shot. They must fight for what is right, and regardless of outcome, do it in a manner that shows class and heart. They must be kind and ready to forgive those who do wrong to them, not perpetuate a cycle that has gone on far too long.
Most of all, they should have faith in their futures, because I have faith from God in them.