It all comes down to fear.
Fear drives anger. It’s a pretty well-researched and agreed upon psychological concept. And once you start seeing angry people as simply afraid, it changes your response to them.
Our children are angry. Very angry. They take to the streets about every chance they get, and hoist signs above them calling for this change or that change or some kind of change. Something is wrong. Something MUST be fixed. Things simply CANNOT stay the way they are.
I’ve never marched in protest to anything or in support of anything. So, I can only assume there is some gratification or release that takes place after a public protest. But it must be short-lived, because protesting never seems to end. And these days, our children are constantly marching up a storm.
My 12-year-old son cannot understand the concept of having to actually be in front of a TV, at a certain time, in order to watch a program. It literally makes no sense to him. Nothing in his electronic experience is predicated on a set schedule. Everything in his world is there when he needs it to be there. It is at HIS disposal – not the other way around.
But I remember (and it wasn’t that long ago) “Appointment Television.” I remember remote controls without pause buttons. Actually, I remember turning channels with a set of wire pliers, because the cheap, plastic channel turner broke off in my hand. And I was really angry about that. My grandfather, on the other hand, seemed to just be glad we had a TV in the first place. He was so content with simple things. How could he be that way?
I now know why. He was happy with things I was angry about, because he had lived through the Great Depression and had faced things FAR worse than a broken piece of plastic. So, he was truly grateful for the roof over his head and the soup in his bowl. And I wished I had that kind of contentment. But how could I with that stupid, broken TV looking like that???
We are raising (and have raised) a generation of people who have known and experienced things humans have only dreamed of for thousands of years. This is the most amazing time in the history of mankind as a species, to be alive and human on planet earth. And yet, we see children trembling in anger and barking curses toward everything and everyone in front of them. Why?
They’ve been told that their planet is dying and on fire and that it’s the fault of other human beings who simply don’t care about them or their existence. And for people who have also been told that they are special and perfect and the center of the Universe, this presents a uniquely untenable situation. It foments a kind of unfixable paradox. And it creates an insufferable human being incapable of gratitude. After all, what is there to be grateful for when the very ground on which you stand is being destroyed…by someone else?
The greatest disservice we have done to our children has been to turn them all into myopic activists. They are growing into people with no perspective and no contentment and, above all, no gratitude. They demand immediate action for things they believe. And they never take into account the fact that they may not be completely correct in their belief. This is how dangerous societies form.
My wife works for an Airline. We love the travel industry. It not only allows us to fly occasionally, but it also pays for our health insurance and dental visits. We’ve staked a pretty good chunk of our lives on it. My wife works very hard and spends weird hours away from the family, to stay in this industry. And now we have children speaking to people in power, actually discussing the end of the air travel industry.
Let’s be honest, kids. That’s not going to happen. Nor should it happen. Airplanes take us to dying relatives and reunite us with lost loved ones and move us to new opportunities and get us to life-changing meetings and sometimes, just get us to a beach. Does that jet fuel have an effect on the environment? I can’t imagine that it doesn’t. But is it worth it? Ask anyone who ever rode west in a covered wagon.
We’ve not getting rid of air travel. And to seriously discuss it in actual corridors of power and influence, makes people nervous. It undermines stability in something we’ve all agreed upon as a society.
You can extrapolate that out to almost any industry.
What are we willing to shut down for the sake of the planet? Taylor Swift concerts? Netflix? Youtube? Fortnite? Swimming pools? Heated and cooled college campuses? HGTV renovation shows? Pizza delivery? Luxury hotels? Muppets on ice? The NFL? The NBA? Disney World? Vegas? Broadway? Starbucks? iPhones? Road trips?
We have so much in this world to be grateful for. Many of the very things that are supposedly “killing the planet” are often marvels that have moved human existence into a world of unprecedented comfort, access and overall health.
Maybe we should start teaching the kids to be grateful FIRST. Then, look for ways to improve on our challenges. Let’s be thankful we can work on new technologies that might lead to more energy efficiency, at night…without having to use whale oil or wooden torches. Maybe we could check those computer models and that satellite data by first being thankful we live in a time with computers and satellites. Maybe a little gratitude for the coal burning electricity will help us graduate out of it one day.
Nothing good comes to you without gratitude. And we have so much in this world to be thankful for. Our lives are easy compared to the lives lived before us. Every time I use my TV remote, instead of those pliers, I know this.
Maybe there’s not as much to fear as we think. Maybe anger shouldn’t be our first emotion. Maybe gratitude should be.
Because sometimes, things actually get better. They have so far.
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