One of these days, I’ll find her.
I will track down U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if it kills me, charm my way past her gaggle of security personnel and find myself face-to-face with the noted woman. And I will thank her. Oh, how I’ll thank her.
But I’m not sure my mere words could do enough to convey to her my sense of gratitude — my appreciation of her, and everything she has done for the journalism business as a whole, and for my little insipid weekly column over the years. Yes, she provides the ammo, I just aim the gun.
Clinton recently gave the commencement address at Long Island University, where she told the audience that today’s young people “think work is a four-letter word,” according to an Associated Press story. She then went on to complain about how today’s youth demand instant gratification, and that they simply don’t work as hard as they need to be working.
So, let’s get a comedic recap here. While addressing young people — young people, mind you, who just put in the work to get their college degrees ... not a group of kids mugging people at an ATM — U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said that young people don’t work hard. You’d have to concur, even the most ardent of Clinton supporters would have to agree, that’s pretty darn funny.
But wait, there’s more ...
Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea (a young person, mind you), called the senator, fuming over what she considered a shot at her personally. The former first lady then had to apologize to her daughter, because, it would seem, her daughter is the one young person in this country who does indeed work hard.
I love this woman. Much like I loved having H. Ross Perot in national elections, and Terrell Owens with a microphone in front of his face — they are all solid gold to columnists.
That being said ...
I am a bit ticked at what the senator suggested in her address. I know plenty of young people, in this very area, that would knock Clinton’s socks right off her disillusioned feet. We have kids from this community that have gone off to service academies and Ivy League schools, or have stayed home and become entrepenuers and good fathers and mothers. Lazy generation?
No more than any other before it, is how I would respond to the senator.
For those my age and older, go back in time to your teenage years and early twenties. Certainly you can think of a few puddle-slurping morons in your own generation. Oh, and the Baby Boomers? There were certainly enough unemployed young members of that generation protesting and spitting on veterans returning home from Vietnam in their youth instead of carving out careers and fighting the economic war against other nations. Wouldn’t Sen. Clinton be considered a Baby Boomer?
I’d suggest that you can also think of outstanding people in your generations who excelled, and made you stop and look at them in awe. However, I’d argue that you’d find most fit somewhere in the middle.
Same exact thing as today.
Don’t be fooled. Young people today are thinkers. They have avenues of communication open to them that we could have only dreamed of, and that “instant gratification” Sen. Clinton spoke about in her address? Well, in most cases, that comes from having instant access to information.
It is a generation of data and access, and many of today’s young people are indeed putting in the work to get ahead and make a difference. Are there some that just stare blankly into space when you approach them at the cash register? Absolutely. Probably about the same amount that did the same things generations ago, I’d guess.
Now, I’ve said it before in this very space. The younger generation might be a bit more soft than those in the past. Physical recreation and employment have been replaced for many by technological alternatives. Spankings are now considered a bad thing — for the parent, if not the child. Youth sports have put in safety rules and devices that increase physical welfare, but probably decrease intestinal fortitude a bit.
That being said, this is not a generation of children who do not work hard, or do not dream. I’d suggest members of older generations stop looking down their noses at today’s youth, and start opening their eyes to the energy, enthusiasm and skills these young people possess.
And, perhaps we should take one last thing to heart — if we do believe that this generation is not pulling its weight, then maybe we should look at ourselves. We’re their leaders, aren’t we, Sen. Clinton?