Sometimes, I have to wonder about the chemistry between the local police and the "bad kids" who are drawn to the war monument at the center of town.
As the days lengthen and the weather warms up, the eight-month cycle begins. Every day, by mid-afternoon, a small crowd has gathered, a family of sorts, talking, laughing, and smoking. A young mother inevitably passes by, holding her bonnie toddler by the hand. She scans the landscape, suspects a hassle, and takes the child in tow across the street. Moments later, a blue and white Chevy pulls alongside the curb. "Clear out!" barks a harsh voice from the window. After groans and rude comments are exchanged, the group migrates.
Sitting across the street, a worn paperback in hand, I contemplate the hope we, as the next generation of world leaders, have been left with and begin to feel a tinge of anger at the world we are inheriting.
It seems that much of the hopelessness apparent in the deadened eyes of my peers is bred by the attitudes of the adults who drift in and out of our lives. Our waking moments are filled with the monotonous preaching of an older, "wiser" generation. It is the blunders of this generation that have created many of the crises we will be forced to deal with as they rest easy in rent-controlled, Florida condominiums and pool-side nursing homes.
One of the favorite words of this group is RESPONSIBILITY.
They take great pride in hurling it at us from their pedestals, yet I look around and see the same figures who glare austerely from the heads of dinner tables and screens of TVs, shaking their heads at youth as they commit the greatest contradictions to the words their lips form.
The divorce rate is up nearly 40%. The same adults who hit the courts with the slightest suspicion of infidelity, expecting the letter of the law to mold to their passions, shake their fingers at the young and mumble about our fickle love affairs and lack of morality.
"Aim high," they tell us, as they feed us corrupt role models selling $200 sneakers to kids who have not had a nutritious meal in a week. The Big Business (read: "Big Brother") of our parents and their companions has created a mold of heroes who sell. It makes no difference that they sell tobacco to rot our lungs or clothing to stimulate jealousy and violence, today's youth is a market, a market told to "Aim high."
The popular culture we have learned from our predecessors seems aimed at destroying all creativity and peace of mind we may hope to stumble upon while navigating the quicksand of technology. Words, music and images are flashed at us in nanoseconds, their hurry influenced directly by the haste of the elders to advance and profit, advance and profit. We have become trained to seek the ultimate momentary high, to do battle with friends, to compete and to rush. We have been driven, by market-based MTV culture, parents and politics, to the depths of false worlds, full of false securities and hollow emotions. But we have not dug this "junkie trap" for ourselves; it, like so much today, is a legacy of the days of our parents.
The sun is lower in the sky now, its golden, innocent fingers brushing gently against rooftops oblivious to the explosions beneath them. A new group has gathered on the sweetly green grass to await the next run-in with authorities. I gaze east momentarily, smile sadly at the hopelessness we have been left with and cross the street. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.