Most of my working life has been spent around youth.
From covering sports at the high school and college levels to volunteering with youth groups, teenagers have been an integral part of what I do. Maybe they keep me young.
There’s one constant I have heard repeatedly when adults discuss youth, particularly in today’s climate: They are lazy, don’t want to work and have no loyalty or respect for those of us who paved the way for him.
To which I respond, “Gee, I wonder why? I mean, after all, they have such wonderful role models to follow.”
We have political leaders who would not know the truth if it smacked them. There are evangelical leaders and church members who twist themselves into pretzels to justify their support of said political leaders who lie, endorse violence at rallies and utter slurs on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, cable news channels that offer 24/7 commentary on daily politics continue the charade by not calling out the wrongs they see and hear with their own eyes and ears.
Yet, we, as followers of Christ, continue to chant, “Don’t lie,” “Treat others as you want to be treated” and so on.
Is it any wonder that the younger generations’ faith and trust in religious institutions has declined?
Why would they want to follow the version of God we have created that suits our image?
Have we become so busy wrapping the cross in the American flag that we have hid what Christ actually taught about loving our neighbor as ourselves?
When I worked in the healthcare field, one of the biggest concerns was not finding enough workers to fill needed jobs.
It was easy to blame “this younger generation” often depicted as not wanting to work, lacking any loyalty to their employer and jumping at a new job in a moment’s notice.
Setting aside whether or not this stereotype is accurate, seldom does anyone look at what type of work environment older generations have created for them.
Take a look at the economic structure. How much loyalty would you have to an employer?
The top 1% continue to get richer, expanding the gap between the haves and have nots. Drugmakers increase the cost of basic drugs by astronomical amounts to keep their stockholders happy.
Politicians take contributions from industries, making the average citizen feel like they have no say in laws they are writing. They try their level best to protect businesses while busting unions and keeping workers from having any say on what happens.
Take for example what happened in Kentucky in the past month: Blackjewel, a coal operator, filed for bankruptcy on July 1.
On the surface, it seemed like just the latest in the slow death of coal. Unbeknownst to the hundreds of coal miners who suddenly were without jobs, their last paychecks bounced.
Some were on vacation; many needed to get school supplies for their kids to start the new school year; utilities and bills needed to be paid.
They had no money and seemed to have no recourse until the company tried to transport by train the coal their former employees had mined but not received compensation for their labor.
Their response is reminiscent of what happened many times in the past when workers took a stand against the company. The suddenly out-of-work employees blocked the train tracks.
What do you think their kids are learning from this? The same thing thousands of other kids learned by watching their parents spend their entire lives working for a company only to be laid off as they neared retirement or had the company they spent years working for go out of business, leaving them struggling to find a job.
Is it any wonder today’s youngest workers have little loyalty or trust for business or politics?
Steve McClain works for the Georgetown (Ky.) News-Graphic, covering everything from local government to court to schools to features to sports. He and his wife Sara attend Georgetown Baptist Church and their daughter Julia is a vet student at Mississippi State University. He is an avid reader and sports fan.