Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse and conservative columnist George F. Will obviously believe in the value of hard work to help mold the minds and bodies of young people.
Today’s parents, they argue, have coddled their offspring and shielded them from the rigors of life that our ancestors endured.
Others decry the “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” of America’s universities that are social and intellectual cocoons for today’s children, who come to campus and expect their beliefs to remain unchallenged and, in fact, validated. Too many college administrators it seems are willing to kowtow to those demands.
History is replete with lamentations about the disrespectful, lazy, morally corrupt latest generation.
It seems we older adults have short memories of our own childhood. It’s convenient to ignore the unrestrained exuberance and undisciplined minds of our own underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex. Yes, mom and dad worried and complained about us, too.
I have long argued for a mandatory public service program for all Americans. It could include military service but other programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Although this obligation could me met at anytime in life, for many young persons two or more years of service after high school could strengthen character and provide direction for future endeavors.
But it’s dangerous to paint America’s youth with a broad brush because it stains the millions of persons who are exactly the type of individuals Sasse and Wills say the nation needs. Young people who are spending their free time playing soccer, taking dance, learning the piano, winning the National Geographic or National Spelling Bee championships.
I was blessed to have scores of hard working, intelligent university students in my classes. Yes, some young people weren’t as focused as I would like. But in four years nearly all had matured; they found a direction in life and were committed to the effort to achieve their goals.
As with us, sometimes it just takes time and proper guidance.