November 9, 2013
The recent governmental “issues” and political temper tantrums create a ripple effect that directly impacts family livelihoods and income. Immediately, the attention turns to Christmas, gifts and holiday surprises. But way beyond the next couple of months, what will come of this up and down, topsy-turvy financial market?
Considering the short term, Christmas will still be Christmas. Perhaps the uncertainty of the market, job insecurities and faltering family finances will cause a sense of renewal about the true essence of Christmas – that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Maybe, just maybe, a few young people won’t have quite the bountiful harvest of presents that they’ve enjoyed in past years. There will most likely be a few young people expecting nothing this Christmas; but the true kindness of our community will shine through.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s just say that the short term picture is more about what “things” the Young World will be getting - or not - as a result of the unpredictable economy and job market. And, let’s face it, for MANY young people, that is saying quite a mouthful.
Is it possible that WE (when it’s capitalized, that means everybody), can determine a long-term impact of today’s economy on the Young World? In five years, what will a retrospective look at 2013 mean for the high school graduating class of 2014? Five years from now, many of the current seniors will be graduating from college with an undergraduate degree and thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Will the activity of 2013 negatively or positively impact the Class of 2014’s ability to find a job or earn enough money to make a college degree possible?
Five years from now, will current 8th grade students change their minds about college plans because of the skyrocketing cost of a college degree? Five years from now, should current fifth graders even expect the joy and jubilation that comes with your “first real job”?
It is very difficult for the Young World to look forward five years, or ten years. Many adults can’t properly articulate a personal “Five Year Plan”. Given the difficulty of planning and preparing for the next five or ten years in prosperous times, it is even more essential that time is tediously taken to trace a trail that creates opportunity for the Young World.
The Young World absolutely must learn from the current state of affairs to be aware of alternative solutions, should we ever find ourselves here again; even better, an enlightened Young World may even be able to avoid this type of situation when they assume the leadership roles. At this very moment, there is an elementary student sharing his lunch with a classmate simply because it’s the right thing to do. Adults can learn a whole lot by intently watching the behaviors of young kids at play. Their innocence and willingness to play with everybody is a skill set that we should all be fortunate enough to never lose.
Who knows? Maybe the resurgence from this recession will create an unexpectedly positive effect. Quite possibly, colleges may begin to compete heavily for good students and provide more incentives, like reduced tuition for work in service fields, more scholarships based on character and integrity, 3 year degree programs, etc. If you don’t believe that there are enough resources to share, ask a kid for a piece of candy on the days following Halloween. You’ll be surprised at the options they make available to you! Be Young! Have Fun!
Columnist Chris Dinkins is an educator and native South Carolinian. His viewpoint is based on personal, classroom and volunteer experiences. Send questions and comments about youth related issues to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.