Friday, September 21, 2012

Random conversation

I was walking by as I heard a snippet of an interesting conversation.

The reason teenagers have all the answers, is because no one has asked them all the questions yet.

You have to admit, there's a certain wisdom in that statement.

My take, though, is a little different.

I think some teenagers believe all the answers are simpler because they haven't experienced very many roles.
Here's why. As a teenager...

You have been a child, you have the child's perspective.

You have been a student, you have the student's perspective.

You might have even been exposed to the perspective of being a girlfriend or a boyfriend.

You might have been exposed to clubs and/or part-time work.

But chances are, you haven't been a wife or husband, or parent (well, at least not the parent of a teenager). Chances are you haven't been sole support of a family and lost your job. Chances are you haven't been an ex-wife or ex-husband. Chances are you haven't been the primary wage-earner and ended up homeless.

I would almost BET that the few teenagers whose life experience has been a little more varied - tend to be the teenagers who know that the answers to life's questions aren't black and white and straight-forward and realize that they don't know all the answers.

I don't think the answer to this is to take teenagers and force them to marry young, have kids, lose their jobs... BUT I think that we can get more social conciousness by exposing teenagers to other perspectives. Get them engaged in tutoring kids whose lives aren't as easy as theirs. Take them to a local homeless shelter to serve a meal (and not just on a holiday). Have them help sort through their outgrown/out-of-style clothes AND deliver them to a clothing bank during open hours so they see the people who need them. Get them to a build for Habitat for Humanity where they work besides the people who don't have money but are putting in hundreds of hours of sweat equity into a home.

Not to get political (well, not too much) but I wish MORE of the politicians really understood the following: Sometimes people don't pay taxes because they REALLY can't afford to. AND just because they aren't paying taxes does NOT mean that they aren't putting forth tremendous effort to improve their situation (sometimes against ungodly challenges). Adding more burden to their lives (like removing some of the tax credits they get?) will only potentially break the working poor.

Yes, there's a percentage that isn't working and has given up all hope of a better life. But if they (for whatever reason) are convinced they can't do better than they currently are? I think society has failed them. Educationally, or emotionally, medically, or otherwise. Most people have a survival instinct to do better to get more, to feed and clothe and live with more... the ones that don't - they need a short-term hand out and a long-term educational, emotional and maybe medical support plan that brings them around to recognizing that they are capable of more. I don't think this makes me a Socialist. I think a socialist would say to give them what they need and not expect them to rise above. I see myself as a realist. Portions of society that have given up hope don't contribute (taxes, purchases, gross national product, etc). They take... it happens now in subtle ways and not so subtle ways (welfare assistance, medicaid, unpaid medical bills passed on to other patients, fraud, all the way to crime, etc). And, if too many people in a concentrated area give up all hope? That area becomes a cauldren of unhappiness, unrest and crime.

None of this is 'all the answers'. I don't have all the answers just like everyone else. The problems are just too complex. But I do think that by expanding perspectives within at least the polititicians, we can at least get people making policy decisions to start thinking beyond their own perspectives.

Just my two cents.

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