I have been sitting staring at my computer for over an hour, well actually several hours, truth be told, trying to figure out what to write about. I have thought about writing about boarding school admissions and then boarding school admissions, and then about hiring an IECA consultant (one of the several organizations I belong to) and many other topics. Just a moment ago I watched a short video on Tip Hero called If You Were Born in the 60s. 70s, or 80s. It came to me – What in the world is wrong?
When I was watching the video, I grew up in the 60s in the US – a crazy time to say the least. We had the Vietnam War, the Cold War, we were post depression second generation kids, there were drugs and racial tensions, along with other crazy things. But what we cared about was so different. As the video shows we did not sense there was danger around every corner. In fact we hardly thought about it. I remember one Saturday a friend and I walked five miles to go to the mall (these were new concepts in out day). We never thought it was dangerous or that some person would kidnap us. We just went. We played outdoors, skate boarded, played tag or kick the can until our mothers called our names inviting us to dinner.
We went to school for the purpose of learning, playing, developing our skills of sharing. We did not panic over standardized tests, or getting straights A’s. Basically, we lived despite the potential crisis that loomed over our heads – our parents wrath or the event of nuclear war (my neighbors built a bomb shelter in the late 60s), not sure which was more intimidating, but I sure know which was more real.
What was most important, as I think about it today, is that I learned to be engaged, engaged in the world around me – my home, my neighborhood, my school. As the video further points out, we had a sense of freedom that came with the pain of broken bones and scars. We were also taught to take responsibility and we paid the price when we got in trouble, most of the time.
It was a different era, I get that, but what changed? What was the societal change that manifested the age when people move away from giving to focus on “gotta get mine!” I am not a sociologist and can’t really put my finger on it, but what I do know is that the world has changed, and not necessarily for the better. I know that every generation has been confronted by imminent disasters, but when did we stop caring about our neighbors and more worried about the WeChat on our iPhones? (yeah, yeah, when they invented both). Not my point. My point is, when did we lose our concept of community?
It is very clear why I worry about it – I worry because the next generation to inherit this earth, which includes my daughter, has lost focus. As an educational consultant working with this future generation I can only hope that they stop and think about change. How can they affect change and provide solutions to the problems they will inherit? I am not just talking about ozone depletion and rising ocean levels, but basic humanity questions.
It seems that we have learned very little over the last five decades. We still have racism, narcissism, and wars over religion to name a few. When the world should be coming together to solve problems it seems like the world is fracturing into smaller and smaller entities and whoever has the most, is most revered. Why our heroes not the ones who are giving the most to humanity but the ones who wore the most expensive or most revealing? When are people going to stop and take responsibility for what is right in front of them?
It is overwhelming, that is for sure. Ignoring our problems do not make them disappear. I ask these questions because I want my students – those going abroad to study, to consider this question – What change do you want to make to you and the world you will inherit? What skills do you have or need to have to make you or that world, a better place?