The Kids Aren’t Alright


The portrait of a true American.


Are we adults or are we just old children?

I ask because I’m beginning to weep for our older people.  You know what I’m talking about.  Just think back to when you were a kid.  Didn’t you think adults were on a higher plane than children? Of course you did, just like me, and I’ll prove it to you.   Whenever you had a question about something—and when you wanted the right answer—who advised you?  That’s right, you went to an adult.  And it only made sense to us kids because, after all, they had been around.  They received educations, had jobs, read the newspaper, drank coffee, and voted.  I won’t say we’ve been lied to, but at least we’ve been deceived.

For starters, adults don’t know anything…well, anything that’s important anyways.  Last year, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute conducted a study which unfortunately proved that it’s a miracle that most of us can tie our own shoes.  Here’s what happened, according to “More than 2,500 randomly selected Americans took ISI’s basic 33 question test on civic literacy and 71% of them received an average score of 49% or an ‘F.’”

And good grief, there’s more.  The quiz also showed that there were twice as many people who knew that Paula Abdul was on American Idol over the number that knew “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” came from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Then there’s the horrific fact that only about half of Americans can name all three branches of government and one in five think the Electoral College “trains those aspiring for higher office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”  Ouch.

And there’s so much more proof than that (like a 2006 Zogby Poll which found 77 percent of Americans could name two of the seven dwarves, but only 24 percent could name two of the nine Supreme Court justices), but I’m not going to continue on that path.  It’s just too painful.

Yes, all that is proof that we Americans are just plain dumb, but I think those polls show even more.  We’ve failed to shed our childhood coils.  We are too young in thought, and not just in “book smarts”, but in our day-to-day wisdom and overall worldviews.  Where’s the proof?  Again, it’s everywhere.


And such well-behaved children, too...


Glenn Beck is a perfect example of how poorly thought out our worldviews can be (by the way, it has nothing to do with his party affiliation; it’s simply because he’s an old child).  For instance, look at his 9-12 Project.  He was off to a bad start in the motive of his scheme: to bring Americans back to the way we all felt the day after Sept. 11 (which, if I’m not mistaken, was scared, insecure, blindly patriotic, and furious).  But that didn’t hold Glenn back, as logic never has.

The first of the nine principles is the one that makes me pop Tylenol like Tic Tacs the most: “America is good.”  For many reasons, that’s not true (racism, greed, religious intolerance…you name it, we’re it), but I think Glenn stumbled upon what I’ve been ranting about all along.  We adults, just like the children we used to be and still are, want to believe in a world comprised of nothing but absolutes—black and white, good guy and bad guy, good and evil.

There’s no middle ground, no grey area, no one side fraternizing with other. Sure, it may be nice to think about, but what’s wrong with that fairy tale world is that it’s only a fairy tale.  Just open a history book—a non-biased one— and see for yourself.  There’s never an instance where someone was entirely good or entirely evil (okay, Hitler was close).  America isn’t good, Glenn Beck, but I’m not implying that it’s bad either.

And yet, the dream continues to be dreamt.  We try and make fiction a fact, as if we could ever get to a Mayberry that never was.  But many will say it did really exist, that we strayed from the Promised Land and just lost sight of the bread crumb trail to get us back.  I (and anyone who doesn’t know anything about history) am talking about the 1950’s.  No prominent historian would concur that the actual 1950’s  was a good time…unless you happened to be a white man.  That said, most would’ve hated the 50’s, except financially (Ike taxed the income of the richest Americans by 91 percent, instead of today’s 35 percent.  Want to call him a Socialist, too?)

But even if we can’t possibly live in Happy Days, how do we continue to pursue it?  Answer: We turn on anything that doesn’t resemble us, both on the inside and especially on the outside.  Why?  Because if we’re the good guys, with righteous God on our side, then what does that say about anyone who’s not a carbon copy of us?

In a recently released survey by Newsweek, the majority of the Republicans believe that Obama is an Islamic sympathizer.  There isn’t any proof on the matter that’s even close to being classified as considerable, yet we still believe it in our head of hearts. Also, according to a poll issued by Time, 61 percent of Americans are opposed to the “Ground Zero Mosque.”  Why?  Because all Muslims, even those who had no ties to Al-Qaida, are evil and therefore un-American.  That makes sense, now change me.

So now you see what gets me so discouraged about the state of adulthood in America: like fiction, it doesn’t really exist.  Well, okay, that’s not entirely true because, like everything, it’s not a black-and-white, good against evil kind of issue.  But we adults must move on from childhood and accept the truth that the paradise we lost wasn’t so great in the first place.

And being an adult isn’t so bad anyways.  You don’t have anyone telling you to finish your green beans or that bedtime’s at nine because you school in the morning anymore.  Nice, right?  But with the freedom of being an adult comes the price of responsibility that we need to pay or face the consequences.  It’s entirely up to us non-children to take care of every aspect of the world.  But in order to do that in the best way we can, there’s one thing we need to do first: grow up.


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