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Destiny’s child (07/01/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." But youth today seems to be short-lived and far from naive. Where is the younger generation headed? Is the adult world leading them to destruction rather than viability?

A global society is more bitter than sweet. It is, all at once, pure and evil, just and unjust, sacrifice and selfishness, God-fearing and sinful, health and sickness, wise and foolish, charitable and greedy. Impressionable young people scatter in all directions.

"Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half." This quote by Gore Vidal is amusing but strikes a sour note. Americans had been complacent far too long, many immune to hardship. While we were sleeping, the annihilators struck. The force of catastrophic disaster is a cruel but effective teacher.

James Hillman once stated that, "There have been 5,600 years of written history and 14,600 wars have been recorded." If we were to take Roosevelt's words to heart, our young people would have been and would continue to be immersed in warfare training and terrorist intelligence. For many that has already been reality.

Author and speaker Sister Joan Chittister, a nun for 55 years, maintains that our country pays little attention to the rest of the world. She has played a role in the promotion of citizen to citizen dialogue between the U.S. and the Middle East.

There is an amazing interview with Sister Chittister in the June issue of the Sun, by James Kullander, entitled "Be Not Silent." She has enthralled many audiences with the force of her indictment of religious hypocrisy, economic injustice, and political intolerance.

Chittister, now 70, serves as co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, proclaiming that her efforts have nothing to do with politics. She delivers a staggering list of statistics on the rising percentage of civilian casualties in war: from 15 percent of total wartime casualties in WWI to 93 percent of total casualties in Iraq.

To open a mind is the only way that things of substance can be put into it. "The art of being wise," William James said, "is the art of knowing what to overlook."

Have scraps of gossipy news we force-feed ourselves daily, and public preoccupation with celebrities' and politicians' private lives, drained sentiments to the degree that we're squandering too much attention on the latest scandals and passing fancies?

Are our young adults escaping fear and their involvement in the real world's harsh realities through indulgence in destructive practices and addictions? Or are they merely irresponsible and spoiled?

Parents drowning in poverty have likely planted the seeds for their offspring's fate. Families in poverty, like weeds, thrive through disgraceful neglect. They can be tossed aside or stomped on, but they reappear, their roots firmly grounded - thorns in the soul of man.

Here we are in the 21st century and we're still: far removed from television images of starving children in foreign places; rescuing U.S. children from drug houses and addicted mothers; spending billions of tax dollars on warfare; suffocating politically; sacrificing United State's role as the global superpower to China due to economics; litigating versus communicating and negotiating.

It seems our younger generation lives carelessly in an unstable, corroding present that they did not create in the first place. What does Mother Nature do with all the human waste it must absorb?

Likely, future generations will not escape the consequential breakdown of natural ecosystems or the collapse of human morality. Young adults of the day are the hope of the future, entrusted with the keys to a unified, democratic global society, one that is conjoined for environmental enhancement, and shares a common world-view for peace and harmony.


Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at




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