Having a blog can cause one to record thoughts that would normally just pass through the brain as a complex and constant web of information assails. So, when I saw a piece on the class of 2017, and the students who were speaking at their graduation ceremonies, my jaded jaw dropped and my better instincts were activated, and I was proud of those young people. I was also somewhat ashamed of what I had been thinking of the latest generation, the label of which I am unsure. I had despaired, being convinced that all the things I had heard about a broken educational system and the proliferation of hi tech rather that high goals, had produced discouraging results that could ultimately spell the doom of the Republic. I was so wrong. Let me explain.
I saw a procession of articulate, passionate young men and women whose speeches, which I assume were valedictory, all hearkened back to principles and precepts that I hold to be universal and irrefutable. They sounded for all the world like preceding generations going back to the Founding Fathers. I would not even be surprised if some of them had actually studied Latin and the classics and knew things about physics that would confound me. I saw young people who had been imbued with a sense of something larger than they were, something that meant so much more than the society in which they now lived and its preoccupation with all things frivolous and fleeting.
If what I saw is representative of our young people, no matter to what degree, then it may be incumbent upon all of us who call themselves “grown-ups” to start acting like it and begin helping to increase the number of such young people. Perhaps we also need to see more of these young men and women in the media and in our communities, bringing our dialogues about them to the same level of the dialogue regarding their less admirable, more troubled counterparts and their myriad problems.
What would happen if the best and brightest of our young people were given the attention, encouragement and support that they truly deserved? What if teachers and school systems were enabled to celebrate their excellence? Such a strategy could be designed to operate alongside the much-needed herculean efforts to stem the rising tide of drug abuse and dropout rates.
In fact, if we might speculate, perhaps such a strategy, done correctly, could perhaps offer another choice to those young people who sometimes decide on destructive behavior because they see no reason to hope that any other behavior is possible. Could celebrating the best, who will most likely succeed, and offering an expansion of that possibly of success to those who are on the fringes, could it possibly help at least more of them try to do it the old-fashioned way that includes hard work and study on their part and the encouragement of their elders?
The answer, as the Bard has already told us, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.