America’s youth are moving to the front lines. A few respectable, cognitive ones are showing up at the occupation sit-ins and tea parties, just a tickle of what’s to come from their generation. However, many Millennials are not quite ready to launch their futures. One can hope mentors and parents are doing all they can to empower them to deal with America’s mistakes.
These youth have many names besides Millennials: The Echo Boomers, New Boomers, Trophy Kids and Generation Y’s, etc. Society hasn’t settled on one title, but there are 80 million beginning to take their place in the adult world, according to Wikipedia. Most couldn’t know what’s ahead for them. They’ll be the ones who put Humpty Dumpty back together again, having learned from our good and our bad.
Our East Valley boasts exceptional youth. They’re vibrant and confident. Talk to their teachers. And, find many of them in church attendance or volunteering in their communities. Pew Research tells us 64 percent of American youth believe in God.
My husband and I recently taught Sunday School classes filled with 16- and 17-year-olds. Nearly two dozen would attend, respectfully dressed and courteous, anxious for adulthood preparation. Radical social media rarely reflect images of that base population.
As readers know, I often refer to the works of renowned historians William Strauss and Neil Howe. In their “The Fourth Turning” (1997), they predicted our current world crisis: “With the generations aligned as they are now, the risk of a major continuing crisis remains high for the next twenty years.” Yet the authors emphasize that our crisis offers opportunities to fix national or even global problems. At the helm of that recovery will be our children and grandchildren, “energetic and decisive.”
Of course, kids follow their own drumbeats, but still, parents are foolish to believe our continued influence won’t stick.
I’m guessing the history of Gen. George Washington is rare in today’s classrooms — especially the portions that reveal from where he attained much of his inspiration. There’s a marvelous story of influence behind his character as he, like today’s youth, stepped into his place in history.
This was a man who prayed his way to victory, fortifying his astonishing determination to attain America’s independence. His inspired troops, many without shoes and provisions in the harshest conditions who followed him to victory.
One of many miraculous events occurred in August 1776 in Brooklyn Heights, Long Island. British Gen. Howe had cornered Washington and his 8,000 troops. Despite Washington’s all-night efforts to ferry his troops across the East River to safety, there were many still vulnerable the next morning. “At this time, a very dense fog began to rise (out of the ground and off the river).” It remained exceptionally thick, even after sunrise, covering Washington’s retreat. (The American Revolution, Vol. II).
Washington credited his God with the miracles in his life, but guess who trusted her influence when her son left to serve his country? In her parting words, Mary Washington reminded him: “Remember that God is our only sure trust ... My son, neglect not the duty of secret prayer.” (“Life of General Washington,” John Norton).
This story is a credible reminder of parental and teacher influence, in every aspect of life. And though this very generation is moving into its place in history, it has seen the highest divorce rates of its parents, the highest amount of children in foster care programs, and the highest amounts of child abuse cases in U.S. history. Still, our children are civilization’s hope for recovery; they will not fail.
We best do all we can to shore up each child. Let nothing slip away. Gift them all the good stuff in our arsenal.
• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.