As I was watching the first presidential debate last week, there were more thoughts running through my muddled mind than I could ever document.
For starters, I was a little shocked that Mitt Romney so obviously dominated the format — not because I was wary of his beliefs or views, but because I had wrongly assumed that President Obama was the far-superior public speaker, and would win these through charm and eloquence. Instead, Obama appeared listless and a bit defiant, and Romney had the look of somebody who was in complete control of the room.
The second thing that stood out to me was that I was rarely believing anything that either candidate was saying. Perhaps I’ve just become disenchanted with our political leaders so nobody gets the benefit of the doubt from me anymore, but every time somebody was moving their lips, I was thinking “lie.” Well, except when Jim Lehrer was moving his lips. Then I was thinking, “Yikes.”
However, the main thing that ran through my head while I was watching was that for all the belly-aching people do in this country over the younger generations, and how our nation is doomed in the future because of them, we should really be worried about the current state of our nation. We are being led by two parties who are fighting for control over each other, as opposed to actually working on our behalf. That, of course, got me thinking about how we are just sheep, regurgitating what the parties and talking heads spew forth ...
But I digress.
I’ve long thought that the future of our nation is in fine hands with our younger generations. Through this job, I get the opportunity to meet a lot of exceptional young people, including some in their early 20s who work here, and I’m incredibly optimistic over the shining stars that will lead the way down the line. Is there a significant percentage of our youth that I am concerned with a bit? Absolutely.
But I also remember doing a lot of stupid stuff when I was younger, and I bet every one of you reading this right now can remember stupid stuff you did as a youth, as well. And I’m pretty sure we can all remember a few individuals from our younger days that made us shake our heads and wonder how those people were ever going to make it in the world.
There are stars and clowns in every generation, and we count on the stars to make the world a better place for the rest of us.
Of course, there is also the consideration that we must do a better job of providing opportunities for future generations.
We must make sure that our schools are not just teaching kids to pass standardized tests, but also teach them to learn and grow as individuals. Don’t get me wrong. Kids still must learn their multiplication tables and spelling, as they are vital in nearly every walk of life, but they must also be able to articulate what they learn and explain what they are learning. Thinking is ultimately more important in the real world than memorizing, and if we do not teach kids to think, we will be at a true disadvantage down the road.
We also have to do something about the national debt. It’s that elephant in the room that gets largely ignored until election seasons roll around, but it’s something that most certainly will have an impact on the future of our nation at some point. I don’t want to hear that it’s one side’s fault or the other. Just get it handled. As my father used to say, “Don’t tell me about the labor. Just show me the baby.” We put you people in office to get results, not just lead pep rallies of like-minded people and produce sound bites.
Lastly, enough of the John Wayne schtick from both sides of the political aisle, from our elected officials and the citizenry in general. We are teaching our youth to be dismissive toward other ideas, and they are learning to not work with others. Teach them respect and they will be respectful. Teach them to be disrespectful, and guess what they will be.
Our future is in fine hands if we do our part to make sure it is. It’s our present that has me really concerned.