No. 627



The other day I received a letter from a young lady that I would like to share with you. Since starting this column back in 1995, I have received thousands of letters from readers all across the nation. I am always honored when anyone takes the time to write to me, but even more so when it’s a young person, because they are America’s future.
We should never forget that we have millions of fine young people in our country and many of them really and truly have something worthwhile to share. As a result, we in the older generation need to listen more and be sensitive to what they have to say.
I am going to share this letter word for word without giving you the person’s name or city, because it may be embarrassing, and I would never intentionally embarrass anyone. It begins: “Dear Mr. Jim Davidson. First and foremost, hello and how are you? I am a 15-year-old female from Southern Indiana. Don’t be wary about my age. I am far more intelligent than people give me credit for, which is the nature of this letter. Though I am aware that you probably won’t write me back, or even look twice at what I am about to say, I am the kind of person who can’t resist but get my two cents in. Therefore, those facts are pretty irrelevant to me.
“I read your column ‘Boy! Did I hit a nerve’ in my local newspaper, and I really admire how you get your point across. It reminds me of myself in 30 more years (ha ha). You see, I have a problem with looking at life through rose-colored glasses because (and I know this) I don’t want to see what’s in front of my own face, so I pretend to smile and march on by, without a second glance. Anyhow, what I’m really writing this letter for is because I have some views of my own to express, and I would like to share them with you. Now, before crinkling this up and throwing it away, never to be revealed again, all I ask is that you hear me out, so here goes.
“Why do older adults always perceive young people in a negative way? It seems they always assume we’re all just young, stupid and on drugs. Though I’m very smart and highly intellectually involved for my age, you people just don’t listen to me. I wish you would first give us a chance to speak out. Most of us are pretty decent, funny characters, and often have quite a bit to say. I really enjoy the company of older adults. It just seems that what I say is automatically less important because I’m a teenager. So, I’m pleading on behalf of the generation that will one day run this country. We need your help, to be heard, to learn, to grow up. Just take some time to listen to us.
“The future is never far away, always waiting and always inevitable, unless you change what’s in the present, by learning from the past to insure a better tomorrow. Thanks and Take care.
“P.S. I’d like to hear from you! Oh! And that’s Box 199-A on the front there, Mr. Jim.”
Well how about that? I guess the first point I would like to make is that I did listen. Not only did I listen, I am also asking a lot of other adults to listen as well. This young lady is certainly right. In just a few short years this generation is going to be running our country, whether we like it or not.
With your indulgence, I would like to make a few observations in regards to this letter. Of course you understand, I don’t know this young lady personally, just what she wrote in her letter. Before I could make any pertinent comments, I would have to know her personally and spend some time with or around her. As I said earlier, I do know there are millions of fine young people in our country, and I’m betting she is one of them. While I may be a little old fashioned, I still believe the foundation and backbone of this nation is to be found in the homes across this great land. It is what we, as parents and caregivers, teach these precious young people that will determine our nation’s future.
This process must begin early because, as the saying goes, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Almost from the moment a baby comes into the world we must give him unconditional love, while at the same time teaching him to have respect for the rights and property of others. By precept and example we must teach him the value of getting a good education, and that reading and study will unlock the doors of opportunity, both for the present and the future. Every human being has worth and value and deserves the right to be heard. So please, listen to your own children and also listen to the children of others. They will make us proud.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)