Sunday, June 14, 2009

Turning Over the Reins

I went to my friends sons' graduation from Drexel University yesterday. Graduations are usually long boring affairs, although there are moments of inspiration especially when you see someone you care about achieve something for which they have worked hard. I tried to see what I could learn from watching this group of kids entering a new phase of their life. It's easy to imagine stuff or romanticize or read more into these emotionally charged events than is actually there. I tried to be more objective in my observations.

First of all, what stood out was the diversity of nationalities represented. There were Indians, Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans, Spanish, and Europeans representing more than sixty different countries. I would guess that less than 25% of the class were white Americans. This is not surprising since Drexel is an engineering school located in the inner city. My initial thought about this was that America is a great country in which opportunities are available to all people regardless of their race color, religion or country of origin.

After a few hours though of observing the kids smile while they received their diplomas, the pride on their parents' faces, and the comraderie that they shared ,I began to notice their differences less and their similarities more. What I originally perceived as diversity was a superficial way of seeing. What was more real was that this was a group of smart kids who shared common interests and aspirations no matter where their parents or grandparents were born . These were kids who were more connected to their computers, i-pods, facebook, you tube, rap and hip hop then they were to most of the racial, religious, and nationalistic concerns that may have preoccupied their parents.

I know that this graduating class is entering into adulthood and its usual responsibilities at a difficult time. They, however, can take comfort that it is not their fault. They did not create our problems. And it seemed to me that they are going to be more than equipped to deal with these problems. They are scientists, engineers, technicians and in general problem solvers who have been brought up in a different world than any other generation, as all generations are. The evolutionary impulse continues to create the level of consciousness and thinking that is necessary to enable humans to survive and prosper.

The old ways of thinking are no longer working and need to be replaced.Those that are in power now take themselves very seriously and assume that they know what is best. I don't think so. The world and its problems have bypassed them It is going to take this new generation to bring a new energy and viewpoint, one that is greatly needed. It will take time, maybe 10-30 years, maybe less, for this class and the ones slightly ahead of them and behind them to begin to impact our lives. If things get really bad they will have to accelerate their pace. I think they will.

It is hard for us to admit that we are dinosaurs, that much of our thinking is no longer valid or capable of solving our problems. We waste too much time discussing matters that are really inconsequential or that have no definitive answers., including abortion, homosexual marriage, Gitmo, capitalism vs. socialism, global warming, bailing out failing companies, and mostly everything that we see every day on the news. We need to spend more time producing products and services that make our lives easier and more enjoyable, that reduce the barriers that separate us, that enable us to live longer and healthier, and that set the stage for our travelling throughtout the universe. I was encouraged by what I saw at Drexel this weekend. I am more encouraged when I see my three grandkids.

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