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The kids are all right

As I thought about this edition of Sidebars, I became worried about all of the disturbing topics to choose from. The world seems so precarious, the future so worrying. 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s destruction of the White House continues unabated. I just had the privilege of seeing the play Hamilton and was reminded of how former world leaders wrote thoughtful, often elegant, beautifully crafted and historically preserved letters. And then there’s Twitter!

I wouldn’t know how to describe this man’s personal attacks from the Oval Office on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the institution that, in effect, protects him. And, yet, it seems like many people are getting used to Trump or ignoring him. Is he, perhaps, becoming acceptable?

At home in Canada, the Indigenous community is angry, and the accommodation paths ahead are worrying. Provinces are disagreeing with each other on the use of natural resources.

On the world stage, Russian leader Vladimir Putin menacingly struts after cementing his tenure in a questionable election. He laughed at allegations — indeed, mounting evidence — that he or his agents had anything to do with the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter on British soil. 

Trade wars, climatic weather disruptions, famine, the quiet rise of the mysterious China, the North Korean puzzle, Brexit and nationalistic isolationism all raise real worries for the future of our world. And then there’s Facebook, stolen privacy and the erosion of trust.

My potential topics all seem so gloomy and then I remembered the powerful demonstrations and articulate comments by young people in their determination to rise against the proliferation of guns in the United States. A sense of hope took over.

We obviously worry about our young adults.

We worry about our young adults being addicted to social media. So much time is spent glued to their electronic devices. Even at meals, it seems we should set another place for the iPhone. Snapchats of the meal have replaced grace.

They seem to us not engaged, disconnected from the present, disinterested in the future and perhaps missing something. So, I reached out to a few young people between the ages of 18 and 23 to get a sense.

It’s me that’s missing something. They are incredible. They are informed and have well-thought-out opinions. They believe that the borders that used to divide everyone have pretty much crumbled as they are exposed and connected to different cultures and people around the world. 

They are less racist — or, at least, much more open and accepting of social issues.

They reject the label of laziness and rather explain their creativity in finding simpler ways of doing things.

They are not slaves to technology, but they see themselves as the first generation to resourcefully grow up with, adapt to and understand it. They emphasize the positive impacts of technology in health care, science and the environment.

They see humans as human, rather than silos of race, gender or status.

Young women have new, vibrant, important leadership voices. Their circle of real friends seems to be wider.

These young people embrace and value education and are imbued with a sense of achievement and innovation. 

Confronted by the reality of mental illness in their own peer groups, they talk about it openly and support each other. 

I think they have moral compasses and lines in the sand. They know how to party, but they don’t drink and drive. There is a respect for the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged and those of different sexual identification. They recognize injustice and are not afraid to take a stand. They see through and reject the politics of propaganda and soon-to-be-broken campaign promises. They want affordable and substantial change.

There is something else. It is difficult to define, but there seems to be, although a rejection of organized religions, a sense of spirituality about them. They are not rigid; their love and awareness of life is clearly evident. Perhaps we should listen to them a bit more. They will challenge our misconceptions. Indeed, we may worry a bit less. The kids are all right. I hope a lot of them go to law school. I suspect we will be in good hands going forward.