Forget the Aliens, I’m Wondering Where the Adults Are.

I’m just a baby in this second half of my particular century I hope to live through. By this point I’ve had the opportunity to embark on foolishness, fail spectacularly, bag some mild successes now and then, and witness things on a timescale that lends itself to learning from experience.

By now some basic truths have come into focus, so much so, that even though I am keenly averse to a perspective of thinking I know better than others, some things I feel confident in, some plain and fairly obvious things, things that simply put, can be recognized as generally unhealthy ways of living.

I can start with vanity. Would I be out of line if I said that having pride in what you do, and doing ones best to maintain respectability is important? But crossing into vanity is something else, something that is a literal danger to ones well being. And I ask, where are the overwhelming numbers of adults teaching the young generation to eschew vanity? Sure, some are out there, but we absolutely live in a world drenched in selfies, self importance, self aggrandizing, and whatever the modern version of keeping up with the Jones’ may be. Seems to me the truth is that far too many of the people old enough to know better, are still in this harmful pursuit.

Hows about values and respect for others? This one could go on for a while, but I’ll give just a couple of examples. How we treat our fellow humans is telling. People still mysteriously idolize Steve Jobs, despite his bullying, condescending, lack of empathy, and entitlement attitude. He had sharp elbows that got things done. But at what cost? If you don’t already know this, just read his biography. Where is our collective compass that eschews these behaviors? We live in a world where most people on the freeway tailgate and try not to allow others to merge into their lane — some serious aggression out there when we are all just trying to make it somewhere. How has our world come to a place where so very much bad behavior is ignored or encouraged? What happened to the adults when they were supposed to be teaching the youngsters manners, cooperation, and civility?

Hows about politics? Is it really so hard to comprehend that there are differing viewpoints, people who have different ideas of how to get to a good place? While everybody cannot be right, the other side is not by definition evil. Where has our reason gone? Well meaning people can disagree and have differing visions. Our job is to sort through, debate, and find paths forward through civil discourse, not simply paint the other side as dumb and evil. Where are the adults in this? How is it that the older generation has failed to instill this basic tenet to the whole of society? As far as I can tell, these days what passes as news is little more than division stoking for dollars. How have our elders allowed us to become so blind and belligerent?

What about wastefulness and consumerism? One does not need to live even 50 years to come to the realization that the endless buying up of stuff does not lead to personal fulfillment. Our quest to constantly get the latest greatest gadget only fuels the need to again get the latest greatest gadget, all while generating a cascade of pollution of all types. Where are the adults advocating for a far less frenzied drive to buy more stuff? Again, many are there, but many more are working in marketing and advertising and selling, all while buying more stuff themselves and setting the example of accumulation and storage space utilization.

Hows about money? Peoples relationship with money is frightening. It’s bad enough that wages have not kept up with living expenses over the last 30ish? years. But to compound the issue, most people have no clue as to how much money they waste on all kinds of things. Average people buy $6.00 lattes at Starbucks so regularly that it has become a line item in budgeting templates. This is crazy. People who cannot afford it regularly go out to eat, buy new cars, and generally foolishly spray about what little money they have as if they have not idea as to its value. Even people who make lots of money almost always spend as much or more than they make. Where are the adults teaching the kids how to value money and use it wisely? Who is teaching them about interest rates, budgeting, etc. etc. I’ll tell you who, almost nobody, not even the schools. I could go on about the endless resources put into ever more manipulative ways to part us all from our money, but that can be for another piece.

There are sadly no shortage of issues that we are collectively failing in. Our society has literally become ill. Something has made its way into our bloodstream, and we are in real need of an infusion. I really don’t know where we can go from here. I just find myself wondering how it was possible for generations to have become so engrossed in collecting shiny objects that they seem to have abandoned their duty to the next generations. And without wise leadership and modeling, how in the world would a society have a chance of successfully navigating this ever increasingly complicated world?


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