GenEd: Sucking Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

…until we stop blaming this “new generation” for sucking, we must first admit that sucking doesn’t fall far from the tree. These kids are in fact the report cards of what we’ve put into them.

I will confess at the outset that this article’s title was designed to provoke you. But I will equally confess that it is true.

In my previous post, we discussed the notion—the correct, almost factual notion, some may argue—that many teenagers today are spoiled entitled disrespectful lazy apathetic brats, addicted to phones, sugar, caffeine, drugs, and porn.

But we equally established that this notion tells us very little if we don’t follow up with the question, “why?

So let’s examine this notion once again. Let’s take “spoiled”, for instance: “These kids are spoiled”. Of course they are, right? But look more carefully: “spoiled” in this sentence is an adjective, not a verb. “These kids” are not the cause of the spoiling; they are the effect. They are not the givers of the spoiling, but its recipients. And by that logic, I ask: if this generation is indeed “spoiled”, then what is spoiling them?

The same goes for “entitled”. If they are so “entitled”, then what’s making them so?

“Disrespectful”. “Apathetic”. “Lazy”. What makes them so?

Addicted to “phones, sugar, etc…” How did they even get these things?

And most importantly, who’s to blame for this?

And this, my Respected Reader, is the very crux of the problem. Our pursuits for justice continue to hinge upon who we’re going to “blame” next. Blame the kids! Blame the parents! Blame the schools, the technology, the friends, the media! And then do nothing more.

But this 21st-century global metamorphosis that we call the “new generation” cannot even be addressed—let alone resolved—with blame. On the contrary: blame has only served to avoid the problem rather than to address it. If we intend to be serious or interested or even competent about our “new generation”, then simple blaming terms like “bad teens” or “bad generation” or “bad parents and schools” aren’t going to cut it. We need to start facing some facts, both about them and about ourselves.

Now, one thing is for sure: if there is to be any blame at all, then it falls upon all of us. Kids know that they behave like brats, but they continue to do it anyway. Parents know that they need to be more involved, but they continue to leapfrog their children from one daycare center to another. Schools know they’re failing, yet so long as a child can spit, pee, burp, or fart onto a crinkled wad of paper, they continue to award and reward and serenade the child ad nauseum.

And we wonder where all of the disrespect and apathy and entitlement come from.

if this “new generation” sucks, then it’s because we made them suck

Perhaps the most difficult truth to accept—and thus our necessary starting point—is this: if this “new generation” sucks, then it’s because we made them suck. If they’re lazy, it’s because we made them lazy. They acquire their respect and ethics and empathy from us, my friends. In short, perhaps their problems have less to do with them and more to do with us. And just to be clear: by “we” and “us”, I am not just referring to “you” and “me”, but to a heap of other factors:

  • The now-necessary double-income household;
  • The high divorce rate and the collapse of the family structure;
  • A hedonistic, selfish, consumer culture;
  • A superficial (virtual) social network that favors appearance and peer approval over reality and self-actualization;
  • A media bent on disseminating fear, hatred, and bigotry;
  • An entertainment industry that thrives on empty dreams of money, sex, and indulgence;
  • The crippling government intrusions on schools and curriculum;
  • A religious hierarchy that is out-of-touch with its congregation;
  • A diet saturated with toxins like sugar, caffeine, fat, and synthetic substances;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Phone, app, and porn addictions;
  • An age of over-information and misinformation;
  • Etc.

But notice something: nothing on the list above is the fault—or even the consequence—of this “new generation” of kids. Rather, these are external factors that are happening to them, whether they realize it or not.

Now, I do not present this to serve as more fuel for blame. I merely intend to inspire the paradigm shift necessary for effective long-term change. And in order to address this problem of the “new generation”, we must recognize that we in our 21st-century totality are part of it. We are contributing to it. We are fueling it. We are ignoring it.

And we can fix it.

And until we stop blaming this “new generation” for sucking, we must first admit that sucking doesn’t fall far from the tree. These kids are in fact the report cards of what we’ve put into them.

I didn’t always know this. I certainly didn’t always have this view. In fact, in the past I spent countless hours drawling and complaining about the horrors of this emerging generation. But one single day— one single encounter— made me realize that for all this time I had been highly underestimating these kids and their contribution to the world. One single encounter made me a believer.

It was the day a cocky teenage girl and The Weeknd changed my life.

But we will save that for next time.

  1. Very good insight…I totally agree! Looking forward to part 3 on this topic!

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  2. Oh Wow Yousef…. right on point… can’t wait to read more.

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