An interview I had with a young man reminded me of what I have known intellectually for a very long time, but at times gets lost in the melee of the moment.
I have known in my heart and my head that the next generation that will succeed us as we pass from the scene will do a stellar job of taking care of the world we leave behind. Indeed, it likely will make it better.
The young man is a Farmersville High School senior. He is a straight-A student. I asked him whether his good grades put him in the running for valedictorian or salutatorian. He scoffed at the suggestion. “Oh no,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who are doing better than I am.”
This young man, Matthew Day, built a trailer from scratch as part of a Future Farmers of America project. It is magnificent vehicle he will use to haul equipment.
I mentioned this young man’s accomplishment to someone, who said, “It gives me hope.” Me, too.
I am reminded of the temptation we all have to denigrate the younger generation. I hear it all the time from those who say, “Kids today … ” don’t do this or that. Or that “kids today” are — pick the epithet you want — spoiled, entitled, lazy, shiftless.
The younger generation is just like all those who preceded them throughout all of human history. They will rise to meet whatever challenge rises up to confront them.
I reminded my friend, the one who said she has “hope” that the future is in good hands, of something that Plato said about four centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. Plato lamented that young people possessed bad manners, that they lacked respect for their elders and worried that the world was heading straight for hell. The Greek philosopher was a smart man, to be sure, but he missed the boat on that one.
I met a wonderful young man the other day and I remain as committed as ever to the notion that he merely symbolizes the best of his generation … and that our world will be just fine once we old folks check out.