The Trouble with Young People Today is…
There is a fun blog called The Problem with Young People Today is. Full disclosure, I’m related to both Don Mills and his brother York. The blog, which is frequently Freshly Pressed (chosen by WordPress as a blog of the day) and which gets a substantial amount of traffic, features the musings of an often cranky octogenarian. He rails against young people, like in this post about appropriate behaviour towards the elderly by salespeople.
Don sometimes gets into discussions with youth angry at his position. In the end, they often end up engaged by Don and sometimes even charmed.
Don often takes things to extremes for comic effect. The crafting of it is considered, intentional and meant to provoke and entertain. It is not just some crank’s opinion. It is a mirror held up to a troubled relationship that has ever been thus: that between the young and the old.
It is the job of youth to rebel, innovate, displace, overthrow, and to challenge. And that’s what they did this past election. They held vote mobs. Yes, Rick Mercer challenged them to do it, but it’s the kids who did it. Young leaders rallied friends and fellow students and made some noise and I’d bet Rick Mercer would be the first to say that the credit should go to them.
I had the great privilege of working a little bit with Jamie Biggar of Lead Now, including on Vote Social, and with our incredibly talented, visionary and hardworking friends over at Communicopia. Jamie inspired me with his sense of purpose, his ability to mobilize and to speak clearly and plainly about his vision. He, like so many youth who stepped forth in the election, is very clearly in charge of his own destiny and envisions a better wrold that I want to work towards and live in.
I think we sometimes have a bias against the young. When young MP’s who had really meant to stand as paper candidates were elected, the backlash against them and their potential as parliamentarians was awful.
“We want more young people and women to get involved in politics, yet when they do engage, we treat them terribly,” said Paula Arab of the Calgary Herald in her article Grow up and Treat Young MP’s with Respect. The only thing worse than the contempt heaped on the candidates was that heaped on those who voted for them. I kept expecting one particularly outraged commentator to start shaking his fist at the home audience, and intone “you’ll rue the day…”
Canada belongs to single mothers and university students every bit as it belongs to political insiders and career politicians. Democracy is not solely for a single gender, a particular age bracket, income bracket, or just for people who practice a in one of a limited number of professions. It is for everyone, and it can, theoretically, witness the election of any eligible citizen, including a young one, or, in the case of this incoming parliament, several young citizens.
Young people challenge us to think differently. To think beyond our own interests. To see the world through more hopeful eyes. They are not yet entrenched in the way things have always been done. Let them look for solutions to problems that have eluded us for years.
The trouble with young people today is…they have the potential to remind us of our responsibility to future generations and the planet. And I for one don’t think that’s such a bad thing.