I’ve always tried to be a “don’t worry, be happy” kind of person but if you read the news these days or watch television, you would be hard pressed to stay in the happiness zone. Unemployment continues to rise, oil continues to spew from the rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and the stock market swings with more wild abandon than my butt in a bathing suit.
I keep looking for the silver lining and have had to look no further than my backyard to find some good in the world. People constantly talk about today’s disaffected youth, and I have even railed about how today’s teens and young adults need to find worthwhile pursuits. But having read some graduation speeches and met some recent high-school and college grads in the past few weeks, I’ve become heartened by what I’ve discovered: Today’s graduates are more on the ball than I ever was or will ever be.
In the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of attending several graduation parties for the children of friends. At these parties, I’ve met other graduates and their families. I have been struck by the fact that all of the young men and women I have come to fete or met for the first time are articulate, polite, poised, confident, and studious. They are all on their way to some fine institutions of higher learning—the University of Delaware, Columbia University, the University of North Carolina, and even West Point, to name a few. They are people who I am sure will accomplish great things in their lives. They are people I enjoy talking to, getting to know better, and learning more about what they think about the big issues that confront our country and our world.
With my friend, Tina Jordan, I taught a college-essay application writing course at the local high school to a group of fourteen students. Based on what I had heard from their parents, the kids attending had no blessed idea about what to write, nor did they have any experiences that would help them achieve the goal of preparing a well-written, interesting essay. I found the opposite to be true. Even if they came without any ideas, by the time we began the writing portion of the program, everyone was busily writing about things that make them happy and unique: chicken fungus, rapping, super stacking, and the love of Jane Austen. To see a disparate group of kids writing about their passions was truly a joy for both of us.
So if things are getting you down, I’m here to tell you that the future is not as bleak as it seems. If the youth of my little village are any indication, we are in very good hands.