Is my generation responsible?

I am still waiting for this generation to morph into responsible adults. When we were growing up, our parents mentored us and guided us into becoming responsible adults, or at least they hoped that we would eventually get out of our stupid teen stupor and grow up. It seems that parents of this teen generation are missing the train on “growing up” because half of them have missed on maturity themselves. What has become of mentoring our youth? When have adults left responsibility and accountability behind and allowed our youth to become morons? When is this generation going to right itself up and start making serious choices? “But they are only kids!” I can hear the cliché’ from a mile away. It is as painful as nails on a chalk board.

This week I witnessed the worst in adult leadership. It was unbelievable and yet understandable because society has turned a blind eye to decorum and respectability since Clinton entertained an intern in the Oval Office. Once we accepted that behavior, society only had one way to go: downhill. I was the keynote speaker at a Women’s History Month celebration where I urged and challenged community leaders to become involved and mentor young girls into becoming successful professionals and entrepreneurs. Participating at the celebration were four teen girl scouts; immortalizing women in history who had shown courage, character, and commitment. Besides the fact that they had trouble reading the script, they obviously had trouble getting dressed in the morning. I was wondering who would allow these girls to go on stage to celebrate women’s trials and achievements dressed like hookers? My answer appeared slovenly by my side, and I suddenly saw the light like Moses. The “leaders” deported themselves worse than the kids. It was painful watching. The only item of apparel that I recognized as relating to scouting was a vest with badges. What the girls had on would make Lady Gaga and Madonna look like nuns. Torn tight jeans, short skirts, and large body parts appeared out of clothing two sizes too small. How come the two “leaders” were unable or refused to instill standards and propriety to this group of teens? Is this what scouting has turned into? Isn’t scouting supposed to instill a code of conduct and turn children into responsible adults?  I was a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader for many years, and the children, regardless of age, had to participate in public in crisp uniforms and respectful behavior appropriate to the organizations and themselves. What leadership skills were these two slugs imparting to these girls? Worse still: how could the parents allow these two women disguised as “leaders” to spend even one minute with their kids?

Is my generation responsible for this generation’s lack of reason and sensibility? Have we allowed ourselves to be carried downstream toward the mud and silt of vulgarity and disgusting behavior? How come this generation of parents and adults do not seem to care for our youth? Why is trashy clothing accepted by our young girls? Even in the 60’s, The Beatles wore suits and ties when on stage. Aretha Franklin, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Connie Francis, and other artists went on stage classy and in beautiful clothing that we all envied. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Herman’s Hermits, The Beachboys, and Sammy Davis Jr. never appeared before an audience in torn anything. They had respect for those watching them. That is the answer. This generation has no respect for anyone, Parents do not respect their kids and vice versa. Hence the utter chaos in families, schools, and social behavior. When did society disintegrate into degradation? Was my 60’s generation at fault; when we burnt our bras and raised our skirts? Did we smoke one joint too many? Did our flower power send pollen into the wind which landed in the brains of this generation of morons? Am I indirectly responsible for what I witnessed on stage? Am I guilty with the rest of my generation of being too compliant with whatever society has been throwing at us for the past 30 years? My parents raised me as a teen in the 60’s and I was a handful, but I also knew the limits and the standards that were set for me. I knew when I crossed the line. Our parents wanted us to be successful. There was no disdain toward the one percenters who had wealth and success; only admiration and some envy which made us work harder at school in the hope that several years down the road we would be them.

My mother always told us that we should never be like “those people.” Till this very day I have no clue who “those people” are, but lately I began to realize that what she really meant was that we should seek out those better than ourselves. To her “those people” did not help us get on in life but rather hamper us toward success. At 97, my mother remains aloof and sets herself apart from most women I know. When I visit her at the senior residence, I attempt to dress nicely because she likes to see us dressed smart. The last time I visited her, we were sitting in the lounge when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a relative of a resident sitting close by. My mother looked at her critically and said: “Look at the way she is dressed, she looks like one…” I never gave her a chance to continue because I knew what was coming next: she was one “of those people.”  My mother was not being insensitive just pragmatic of the fact that we are who we portray to be. If at an early age we allow young girls to look like tramps eventually they may fit the mold. The question is: how are we going to break that mold?


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