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August 12, 2004
International Youth Day

Young and Thwarted from Deutsche Welle.

August 12 is International Youth Day. Its aim is to put the spotlight on the problems of young people and involve them in political decision-making. Society has failed the young, a member of that generation comments.

It's an interesting thought shallow contrast between consumer cultures and the lives of third-world youngsters, but there's some good stuff in it.

I was thinking about this on the way to work this morning. NPR was doing a story on drugs and drinking in rural communities (most particularly meth-amphetamines) and I remember one kid shrugging off the growing problem, explaining that "there's nothing to do" in a small town, so kids do drugs.

It was sad and pathetic. He described "cooking" (I'm no expert on drug preparation) his drugs in an abandoned farmhouse and, with a certain amount of enthusiasm, described how you could "sit and look around and see antiques" or words to that effect.

In response to an authority's insistence that there was hunting (yeah, go kill something, that's a hobby) and fishing and camping and all manner of other outdoor activities, the kid protested that in order to do those things, someone has to take you. Which is true.

I'm not a big fan of, "blame the parents at all costs" but the kid being interviewed wasn't some hopeless case. He was willing; he just didn't have anyone to show him the way. Parents need to spend time with their kids, doing things with them. Without adult supervision and guidance, kids aren't going to automatically do the right things. They don't know the right things, and even when they know the wrong things, they're not always capable of evaluating why to avoid them or the potential consequences.

The story also made me think of the declining voting rate in this country and the problem of drugs, crime, and alcohol in every state.

And maybe the problem is that there's no one to do the right things with today's kids?

I had it in mind to write a whole, long ramble about the importance of community for both kids and adults, but my head isn't working right today. You know my opinions by now, so just imagine it for yourselves, okay?

Posted by AnneZook at 05:53 PM


Makes me wonder how much cars can be blamed for the decline in voting. People spend longer in transit than they used to, each day. It absorbs a certain amount of our leisure time.

I've a friend who moved way out to the country so she could lead the simple life, and leading the simple life turned out to mean driving her kid to school, then soccer, then getting groceries. If she wants to see her old friends, she has to drive into town, so that's an hour. Her church is now an 1:15 hours away. She says she spends between 2 and 3 hours driving each day. Lots of American fantasize about moving to the country side without realizing it means spending a hell of a lot time in a car. Also, everyone gets spread out a car based culture.

I can't, off-hand, think of a direct connection between cars and the lack of community or political participation, but I'd be willing to believe that there is one.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at August 13, 2004 07:52 AM

I think the problem is that she moved part of her life to the "countryside" but not all of it. Maybe she should have chosen a place near a small town, with a grocery store? (Of course, that's not really practical, either. Where you live can be limited by where you work.

I know I've read that the car culture, more than anything else, was responsible for the decline of the extended family and the small community.

Posted by: Anne at August 18, 2004 08:17 AM