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  • Reverend James Squire

Young People Are Not Our Future

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Young people are not our future. When I saw this title of an opinion article, I had to stop and see what this heretical statement meant. It certainly got my attention. I have been in education for thirty-eight years and am a drum major for honoring the power of young people. The point of the article was to celebrate all that young people are doing right now to make the world a better place. They are acting now. They are being spokespeople for the most important causes such as climate change, regulation of guns, civil rights and other challenges that we face as a society. They do this by being dismissed too much by the adult world.

Young people, however, are also not our future when they fail to wear masks, social distance, and don’t obey the Covid-19 guidelines. Quite frankly this is one thing that I don’t just understand. The young people that I have been with over the years tended to be the most polite and responsible people that I know. What happened? Most of young people’s bad behavior has been associated with college students on vacation or partying in large groups on campus. When interviewed, they would too often say, “I’m going to party! I am not worried about the virus.”

When you think about it, we don’t see working class kids not in college highlighted much at all. The same is true for the underserved young. I am sure that they have broken some of the guidelines so why no press on them? It could be that their sense of entitlement is not like those in this generation of college students. Have you noticed that or is it just me? The economy is tight. The people who feel it the most first are working class and underserved families who need to stay well to keep their jobs. There is little time for risk taking activities compared to those on the college scene.

Over 40% of Americans don’t have much back up in their savings accounts. It is what it is. I saw a student from one of my alma maters being interviewed about what struck him most about college life going to a high level private university from an underserved background. It sounds a bit crazy, but he said, “Second homes!” (full disclosure I have one) It never dawned on this student that people could have two homes when it was hard enough for his parents to have one. That’s what we call a “where the rubber hits the road observation”.

We get the daily statistics on how many people are affected by the virus. I would want to know the percentage of middle class young people compared to the underserved and overserved young people who have the Covid -19 virus. Which group is spreading the virus the most? Can we focus attention on the answer?

Young people are not our future reflects a fundamental truth that I saw recently. “The best math you can learn is how to calculate the future costs of current decisions.”

That statement will, in fact, decide if our young people will be the future and not just the inheritors of present bad decisions. The most obvious decisions that need to be made now to literally ensure a future for the young is climate change. Let’s make the right decisions now so that our young people have an opportunity to shape the future. I think that is a more accurate statement or young people will not be our future.

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