Who Are These People, and Why Are They Calling Me 'Mom'?
They do look familiar:
Every so often a small group of young people show up at my house. Seems to be cyclical, usually on or near a national holiday. Sometimes their visits fall on a weekend.
They are a good-looking, intelligent group - very impressive. We have lively conversations, sometimes about sports, politics, religion, on occasion we even discuss sex. We tell jokes and share our life's experiences with one another.
A lot of the time I agree with their points of view. But sometimes I take offense at the ideas they express that are typical of their generation, but at odds with mine. And, in spite of my better efforts, they have made some inroads into my way of thinking on more than one subject. For instance, I was raised on traditional religion's stance on homosexuality. Not that the subject came up all that often. I was well into my twenties before I became aware people with such proclivities existed, but I didn't know much beyond that basic fact. These young people who show up at my house from time to time have told me they actually have friends who are gay (the term they most frequently use.) They argue, especially a person with religious leanings, shouldn't treat these folks any differently than they would treat anyone else. They ask, isn't that the essence of religion anyway - accepting people without judgement? And if you look back into the history of mankind, people with these sexual preferences have always been a part of any culture you uncover. The state can even be found in the animal kingdom. I have to admit, they make a good point.
This group of youngsters have caused me to rethink such issues as voting for one particular party over another simply because of loyalty to a party. They tend to look beyond the label and ask questions of candidates, like how do your policies affect our planet? How do your policies impact the weak and the poor in our country? How will your policies change the lives of generations who come after us, rather than just making us - or some of us - richer or stronger right now? They aren't just drawn to a candidate because of their race, religion or sex. In other words, their first requirement is not that the candidate look just like them. Interesting.
A Different World View
They also don't seem to accept the status quo. Social Security? No, they aren't relying on it. They are assuming they will be responsible for their own retirement and are doing a better job of planning for it than my generation did when we were first starting out. America's position in the world as a super power? They have known the realities of being a nation at war ever since middle school. They have seen firsthand what leaping before you look can do - it has been their classmates and friends who have done the fighting and dying. Health care and taxes? They will tell you anyone can see there has to be a better way for a country as advanced as America to enact a system of doing both. I really get the sense their generation is just waiting for some of my generation's dinosaurs to die off so they can make some headway in both these basic areas. Where sixty-year-olds see problems with no solutions, thirty-year-olds seem to see solutions, if we only have the will to put them in place.
I'm impressed these young people still reveal so much hope and determination in light of the world situation in which they have come to adulthood. War, unemployment, polarized social classes, redefining of "the American Dream," and the first generation that may well not be left better off than the generation that preceded them. When I was their age I thought anything was possible. They seem to have a practical sense of what is possible and what is not.
Every so often one of them will open their mouth, and I'll hear my own voice come out. They will repeat old sayings or defend a position I hold. When that happens, I smile and tell them they were raised right. That's when I invariably get a hug and the response, "Yeah we were, Mom."