Monday, May 22, 2006

I Got Mooned on Mainstreet

The other day, as I was returning home near 1 am, a group of young people, probably in their early twenties, were standing on the sidewalk across the street as I turned onto the main drag through our sleepy little coastal town.

At first glance, I barely even noticed them, as I was tired after 12 hours and looking forward to relaxing at home.

However, just as I began approaching them, a number of young men and woman started out onto the street, laughing and looking my way. Then, without further ado, they turned around and mooned me, a total stranger, taking supreme and giddy glee in the rather cheeky act.

So, why would I even mention such an insignificant and childish act?
After all, I was driving by, and it was all over in less than a moment.

The reason is that as I drove home, I thought about what might inspire a group of normal young adults to get their jollies lighting up the cool coastal night for strangers with their gleaming little buttocks.

The answer is, the act was caused by the same mentality that you hear spoken by young people in communities everywhere these days: "There's nothing to do!"

I've lived in or visited many communities over the years, and have heard the same expression many times - young people and parents complaining that there's nothing to do in their community. We build arenas, skateboard bowls, rec centres, swimming pools, hiking trails, theatres and more, but there's "nothing to do" in our communities.

What's wrong with this picture?

It's simple. The mentality today is that rather than creating entertainment, everyone is saying, "Entertain me!" Laziness is rampant, and young people want everything done for them, including their personal amusement.

I've personally never been bored. There's more to do in any place I've ever lived than there's time to do! In fact, I've found that people who have lived in a community all their lives often don't even know what's in their area. They don't know where the hiking trails are, where the good campsites are, where the hidden fishing holes are, where that road goes, what's at the top of that big rock, what the inside of their library looks like, who's singing at the community theatre this week, and the list goes on and on. Unless someone is laying it all out for them and organizing their fun, they're completely lost.

Gone, today, is the adventurous spirit of youth, unless it's first sparked by alcohol or drugs (as was most likely the case with those youngsters on the street that night.)
Imagination in many, if not most young people is dead, and they're completely lost if no one is laying their entertainment right in their laps.

Perhaps we could begin to help by putting some pressure on our governments to quit experimenting with out kids, and go back to teaching the three R's, promoting healthy competition, and actually rewarding kids for accomplishing something and standing out above their peers.

Parents, too, can challenge their kids to strive for excellence, to create their own fun, and to look for adventure, rather than sitting for hours with a gamebox or TV in front of them. (What a horrible waste of time!)

As I said earlier, I've never been bored. (OK - except for a very short time with a mindless job I once had.) The reason is that my parents strongly encouraged me to succeed, to use my imagination, and to create my own entertainment, and to work. My siblings, friends and I spent hours acting out great adventures inspired by books that we actually read ourselves! (what a scary thought for modern kids!) As we got older, we explored the area around us, hiked, camped, canoed, fished and swam, even slogging through the snow in the winter time in search of new areas yet undiscovered by our enthusiastic quests.

We also enjoyed concerts, plays, music fests, flee markets, parades, our local library, and much, much more.

When we weren't out creating our entertainment, we (horror of horrors!) had CHORES to do! Yes, we actually cleaned our own rooms, washed dishes, helped clean the house, mowed the grass, washed the car, chopped firewood, worked in the garden, mended or built fences, and whatever else needed doing that we were capable of doing. We simply didn't have time in between to be bored.

Where is our modern, Western society headed? What will these young people be like when it's their turn to run things? Will we able to even function as a society? Hopefully, the answer is yes, and perhaps, even, our young people will see what a mess the thinking of the latter half of the twentieth century has made of our world and do an about face.

That is, if they set the gameboy down long enough to take a look around.

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