An email I received from my son, Baird, today:
“Just sent this to a bunch of people at the star – let’s see how easy it is for a member of the reading public to contact a newspaperman haha.”
The Kansas City Star recently published a serial article entitled A Generation in Free Fall. The thrust of this work was to help quantify the difficulties of today’s graduating college student as he looks for a sustainable career, and to give voice to the fears and frustrations that plague the generation next slated to take the reins. In part two of A Generation in Free Fall, a recent Baker University graduate asserts, “Like a lot of people my age, I’m looking for something better.”
As a fellow 23-year old college student, I agree with this statement whole-heartedly: I too am looking, voraciously even, for something better. But I think the Star missed an interpretation of these lines that, from where I stand, more accurately represents the thoughts and emotions of my generation.
I’m looking for something better than corporate petulance. Companies fail due to lying and corner-cutting, and then the toddlers at the helm scream “MINE!” and accept millions of dollars in BONUSES (more money than most ever see) to pad salaries already looking down on the widest chasm between rich and poor in history.
I’m looking for something better than a rancid and rancorous political climate. I’m looking for something better than reasons to excuse childish name-calling, tattling, and lying during campaign season. I don’t care what political science term you cover it up with: behavior usually corrected in the nursery does not become permissible on the macro level. It’s why neither politician received my vote, and let’s be honest: it’s why my friends and classmates don’t vote either.
A Generation in Free Fall laments the difficulties facing young people looking for a place in today’s America. The underlying assumption of the article is that, without finding such a spot, our youth will be caught up in a riptide of suspended adolescence and dead-end decision-making. This assumption is flawed, and so the lament is unneeded. I see a generation who looks at the behavior of those who stand at the heights of American power, and recognizes irresponsibility. We are looking for something better – the disengagement of young adults in this country stems not from laziness or lack of principle, but from our awareness that adult behavior in this country is actually pretty hard to come by. Surely our wide-spread involvement and interest in topics like eco-sustainability, the many crises in Africa, the 2008 presidential campaign, and the gay rights movement disprove any argument that we are slothful or sluggish to be involved in things greater than ourselves.
I think we have less to worry about than the Star’s article would have us believe. From where I stand, I don’t see a generation in free fall. I see a generation with the clarity to call things as they are. We aren’t following the path our parents took, but why would we when it seems to have led to crippling debt, failed marriages, bitter political polarity, and me-focused consumption?
“Like a lot of people my age, I’m looking for something better.”