It’s a tug-of-war, and I’m not sure who is winning. A battle is raging for the hearts and minds of our young people, and recent news stories only confirm that the outcome is far from decided.
Ten shining faces are in the photo about the Nicholasville Rotary Club Scholarship recipients.
As one reads their accomplishments and future plans, it’s easy to think that all is well and our community is sending top-notch teens out into the world.
Science, music, engineering — all are endeavors worth applauding, and we should rightly be proud of them.
But online, that engaging picture is right next to the mug shot of a 22-year-old who allegedly pushed a woman to the ground, snatching her purse in the parking lot at the Nicholasville Walmart.
Couple that with the charges against an 18-year-old who allegedly committed a violent rape, and the situation seems even more grim.
I was dismayed by the graphic report in the paper, as were many others.
But while the debate rages over whether the language was appropriate for a hometown newspaper, I fear we are missing the more important issue of the day.
Today’s teens are assaulted daily with disturbing imagery and language.
Everything from rap music to reality television exalts a mindset where life is cheap, bad reputations are cool, women are objectified, and violence is the norm.
Recently, I watched an episode of “Adam-12,” which was gritty police drama in the 1960s.
The crimes ranged from jimmying change from laundry machines to a man stealing money from a local priest.
There was no blood, no swearing, and the bad guys were seen as bad people.
I can’t even stomach today’s dramas like CSI.
It seems that the gorier the crime show, the more people watch.
I do remember some of Summer’s stuff was racier, but even her raunchiest stuff pales in comparison.
We need to embrace the proverb, “garbage in, garbage out.” Our children’s environment makes them numb to cultural mores that are no more than 30 years old. What is a concerned adult to do?
We need to turn off televisions and quit frittering away time on the Internet. We need to invest time — volunteering in schools, community-service agencies and church programs that engage at-risk children and teens.
It’s impossible to gauge the exact moment when a child is open to positive influence that will change the course of his or her life forever. We must be present to take advantage of many such opportunities.
We need to invest money. I was grieved to learn that after my impassioned plea to the community that we each send $11 to support the Adult Education and Family Literacy Program helping young mothers earn high-school degrees, I was the only one who did. That’s pathetic.
Either no one reads my column, which may be a possibility, or no one truly cares about those young families.
So, my fellow citizens, what do we want to reap? We will reap what we sow.
If we sow indifference and apathy, we will reap a generation of young people who might think purse snatching is OK as long as you are smarter than the guy who hid in a storage building.
But if we choose to sow integrity, commitment, and caring into the same young people, we will reap a generation of more college-bound achievers.
We can’t save them all, but we can have a bigger impact. Whether you know it or not, you make that choice every day. Choose wisely.