Editorial: The 'All of Us' generation
By Richard Gaw
Last Friday evening, The Kennett High School Athletic Representative Council, in partnership with the Students Against Destructive Decisions student group at Unionville High School organized a charity basketball game on Kennett's home floor. The game pitted teachers from both schools, and although the level of play never rivaled that of the schools' boys or girls teams, it was of very little concern, because something much grander was happening.
All proceeds from the game were dedicated to the Delaware Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research.
It was a full-throttle effort by students from both schools to recruit teachers, design t-shirts and organize the logistics of the event to benefit their friends and families living with type 1 diabetes in the community.
Last week, nearly two dozen students from Unionville High School designed and built 45 hospital beds that will soon be transported by Project C.U.R.E. to Tunisia.
These projects are just two of the many examples of how our local high school students are carving their altruistic imprint on the towns where they live, and on the global community as well. At Unionville High School, there is Helping the Hungry, Backpacks for Barrett Town, the Empty Bowl Project Group, and Girl Up, to educate the Unionville community about the difficulties faced by girls in developing countries and to make a direct impact on these girls' lives by raising funds for United Nations programs.
At Kennett High School, there is the Invisible Children Club and the Humanitarian Society. At Avon Grove High School, there is ENACT, an environmental action group. At Oxford High School, there is Helping Hands and the Student Diversity Council, who works to promote harmony and respect for ethnic and cultural differences and to create a safe school environment by campaigning against prejudice, bias, bullying, and hate towards those who are different. This is only a brief tasting of what amounts to a total of more than 50 service organizations at all four area high schools; were this newspaper to list each one -- with descriptions -- this editorial would require nearly this entire page.
These students belong to a culture of young Americans who are behaving in a way that is openly defiant of cavalier biases and lazy stigmas, that target them as a generation fixated on their own self-fulfillment. They are complex and sophisticated and restless, and readily see through the transparency of tired messages, and in order to best see how they came to be, we must explore the origins of their DNA.
From 1946 through 1964, the Baby Boom Generation was defined by their sweeping rejection of their parents' belief in social responsibility, arching rather toward self-realization -- a tune-in, turn-on, drop out counterculture that writer Tom Wolfe dubbed the "Me" Generation. Generation X, or Gen X, (1965-1976), grew up during a time of shifting societal values, and were often characterized as a demographic of slackers -- a cynical and disaffected group who eventually grew up to become active, committed adults who have achieved a critical life-work balance.
Generation Y -- or Echo Boomers or Millenniums, as they are sometimes called -- are, in many ways, mirrored reflections of the best of who came before them. They own the idealism of their grandparents, who believed that our worst problems can only be solved when we solve them together. They are gifted with their parents' sense of the possible, a stubborn belief that says nothing is beyond the reach of one's potential. These inherited ideals, melded with the smallness of what the Internet has made of the global community that surrounds them, have conspired to create The All of Us Generation.
Whether it has arrived by circumstance or mere design, we live in a nation that has torn itself in two. Newspapers flip open and televisions blare, revealing a grotesque and daily assault on our decency, comportment and citizenship. If we engage in the madness, we become part of the madness, but to disengage would mean that we are surrendering to even more madness. In between, we cling to a narrowing conviction that tell us that we are, by our nature, a hopeful and helping race. But where are the signs.
Don't look for it in the newspapers. Don't listen for it on the radio, or wait for it to come on the television. But trust us, it still exists, in the diligence of teenagers, who have formed a new generation, one that leans generously on the better nature of ourselves, and our future.