“Get off my lawn!”
“Kids these days…”
“Nobody makes them like they used to…”
Sometimes, and probably more often than we think, the grouchy old man is right. Stephen Zelnick examines one of the problems facing young men these days:
As a boy, I revered George Washington and was not baffled by the fact of his slave-owning or his land dealings along the Potomac, as if that was all to be known about him. I hoped I would tell the truth about despoiled cherry trees; I hoped, like Benjamin Franklin walking down Philadelphia’s Market Street as a young man on his own, that I would see the world before me as an open field of possibilities; I believed I would, like Lincoln, chase after the poor woman who forgot her three pennies because it was the right thing to do. How does a boy become a man without these inspirations?
The social and cultural atmosphere has been so polluted one wonders how young people can form life-projects that demand decency and tenacious effort. Everything seems to be for sale, and no one is ashamed by it. The fix is in on the Left and the Right in Washington. Turpitude in the coal and oil industry, with their locust hosts of lobbyists to protect them from those who would protect the environment, is an old story. The new stories are about agri-business and healthcare and education, and now even the green NGOs that take big bucks to moderate their advocacy.
As bloggers oft proclaim: Read. The. Whole. Thing.
One place I might take issue with him is when he says:
Unlike their female counterparts, young men tend not to complain about unpleasant grades and do not chase every stray GPA point in petty obsession to excel.
This has not been my experience at all. But I am not teaching English, and I have been at this for far, far, far shorter a time than Dr. Zelnick, so I’m inclined to either defer to his greater experience or chalk it up to the difference either in discipline or in region.
H/T to Jane Shaw at Phi Beta Cons.