This post is a bit longer than usual, but I hope that you will stick with it to the end. This new, young generation–our children of Gen Y– is one that needs help. I hope that I have heard the final comment from others who have said, “We are writing off this latest spoiled generation because of their attitudes and laziness.” Adolescence, teens, and young adults today need guidance; but they don’t need the form of guidance that Newt Gingrich is suggesting.
Reacting to the Newt Gingrich recently posted article in BusinessWeek (November 10, 2008) entitled “Let’s Scrap Adolescence and Grow Up”, I was surprised to read of Gingrich’s desire to “declare the end of adolescence”. Apparently, he believes that the high rates of illegal drug use and sexual activities of adolescents and teens warrants an end to the “social experiment” labeled adolescence. He believes that children should assume the roles and responsibilities of adults in order to provide an enormous benefit to society.
He provides examples of Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Boone, John Quincy Adams, and “the list goes on and on”. Bordering on the edge of child exploitation in an unimaginable way, Gingrich claims that “adolescence was invented in the 19th century to enable middle-class families to keep their children out of sweatshops.” However, Mr. Gingrich, there are few, if any, remnants of the cultural and societal ways that existed 100-200 years ago that might apply in our society of today. Hunt for dinner today? Not necessary to have a gun for that purpose – or for any other purpose that I can muster. Gather up the farm animals, cultivate the gardens, and harvest the crops for the winter months…..hmmmm…..haven’t seen much need for this around where I live lately. But then maybe Los Angeles isn’t like the rest of the country. Walk 5 miles to school each way, every day….now perhaps that might teach an adolescent responsibility and “serious work”.
It is hard to imagine that the American family and the adolescent of today would benefit from shifting life’s responsibilities of a 30-year old to that of a 13-year old. Consider this: instead of our current 6.5% national unemployment rate, why not double that with all the young teens unable to find responsible and fulfilling work as well? Might as well join their parents in those unemployment lines, make it a family activity. But heck, at least that would keep those teens from indulging in drugs or sex while standing in those lines.
After many years as a conservative Congressional political leader, Gingrich now spends his time as a political analyst and consultant who now writes works related to government and other subjects, such as historical fiction. Wait…did I just read and say “historical fiction”?
Perhaps BusinessWeek, normally a highly reputable business journal, was looking for some opinionated fodder to rile up the readership. Haven’t had much else getting us all excited lately except a few minor problems including the current devastated economy, plunging housing markets, rising unemployment rates, bankrupt American automotive manufacturers, endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, changing climate, and the list goes on. But, then again, perhaps this list of growing U.S. concerns would be minimized if we had more responsible 13, 14 or 15 year-olds trying to solve them instead of Washington bureaucrats.