What does one tell the grandkids in a world like this?
I grew up a poor kid in a rich person’s town. It tends to either make one discouraged, or scrappy and resolute. I took that second path.
It was clear then. The enemy was poverty and circumstance.
The battle plan was also clear. Poverty and circumstance are overcome by working hard, and pursuing a good education. That was the understanding of the founding generations of America. That was also the understanding of my parents.
Now as a grandparent, I’m not so certain what lessions to teach my grandkids. At lease they are not growing up in Huxley’s Brave New World. He gloomily predicted the future would be characterized by diminished individualism; government domination of everything; bioengineering of higher and lower classes in order to faciliate and perpetuate a “working class of laborers; and mass use of the drum “soma” to keep the citizens from revolution. (Or are they?)
I understood that it might take generations to overcome our family financial circumstance. I was prepared to be the stepping stone for myt children. My immigrant father had done that. He worked at a labor insensive job his entire life, until it literally broke his heart. He had tenacity and loyalty and perseverance. Those were the qualities he told me I needed as well.
Now I read articles that college education is highly overpriced and highly overrated. My chosen fields of education and human services, like many others, are under increasing pressures. There is a great deal of uncertainty in most career paths.
So what does one tell the grandkids-about how the world works today; about how to succeed and overcome the inevitable difficulties which life brings; about how to create a career that enables them to accomplish their life dreams?
I do think I need to tell them that there are lasting truths. It is fundamental to work hard. It is important to get a good education. But there are other lessons to be learned.
Kids growing up today need something in addition to traditional values. They need a framework of thinking-an attitude- a stance.
Think like an entrepreneur. Work smarrt, not just harder. Get the education which will enable you to have the information and skill sets to benefit your personal goals.
You have to have tenacity, but you also have to be nimble and flexible. Some have referred to this a being in beta mode. This means always in the process of retooling, shaping, adapting to changing circumstances.
Yes, you have to have loyalty, but you also have to look out for your own best interests.
You have to work on evolving your overall consciousness through travel and experience, so that you are not a prisoner to your current circumstances. The journey gives you perspectives which you cannot get from just one place.
If you can, from time to time, remember to just enjoy the ride. What an extraordinary thing to be alive and aware during these times.
Then perhaps Miranda’s ironic lament in Shakeare’s “Tempest” can be turned into a celebration of hope for the next generation: “O brave new world, that has such people in it.”