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The Kids are Alright
February 20, 2002
by Tyler Durden

To my unknown fan at Marine City High School: Greetings and Salutations. Thanks for boosting an old fart's ego.

I've been afraid that protest and dissent on the large scale had died with my generation and the protests of the 60's and 70's, but my faith has been renewed; hold on, they're coming.

I like to talk to my two sons' friends. I used to think this was because they were odd and interesting; birds of a feather, like me, that sort of thing. I've revised that opinion. I talk to them now because if they think for a minute, they will come up with the right answer, and it's natural.

When my sons got older, I expected them to rebel, maybe even become conservatives. After all, they both went through D.A.R.E., and since then, I haven't had a moment's peace whenever I pick up a beer. They should have seen me in 1971.

What has shocked me to disbelief, is that for all of the little things they do that I don't get, they turned out liberals. My 16 year old gets pissed at every Bushism he hears, and my 13 year old has a picture of the pResident on his dart board. It has dramatically improved all of our aims.

Mind you, I'm not complaining here; I'm just confused. These guys, although very smart, are not very old and experienced. Neither has lost a job, gone homeless, done without healthcare, or even missed a meal, as I have on all accounts. They should be rebelling against my values: where did this level of awareness, this understanding come from?

I'd like to take credit for at least a small part of it; after all, I've never said a nice thing about Reagan, Bush I or II, Ashcroft, or Michigan Governor John Engler. Not that they have received any positive press from me. They haven't. But in retrospect, my kids deserve a most of the credit themselves.

Young people have stood up to derision since time immemorial. "When I was your age" is such an ingrained cliché that parents would all have to start speaking Esperanto to avoid saying it several times a week. The truth is, there is no such thing as your age or my age. We're just people, and one of my oldest son's friends demonstrated that to me in spades.

He's another smart kid. Got good grades, stays pretty clean, part time job, etcetera. Comes from a very religious family. When I was going through my last attempt to ameliorate my death phobia with religion, this kid showed up pretty regularly. He tried to debate me about women's choice ("the evils of abortion"), evolution ("Darwin and Creation Science are both theories"), and other pet subjects of the far, far right-wing fringe, and I treated him with respect while inwardly shaking my head and saying the leftist version of "When I was your age" in my mind.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when this kid's father starts talking to me in a Supermarket checkout line about how this kid has changed, and he's ducking homework, yada yada yada. I see this kid about two weeks later: he's wearing (horror of horrors!) a black trench coat - and he wants me to read his poetry! I sit down with him, expecting the usual party line, and he's telling me about how he sees things differently, how the conservative side isn't the Gospel he thought it was.

Basically, he's telling me that he woke up to smell the coffee. He thinks that Bush is wrong, that Ashcroft is betraying civil liberties. He said protest would be good, perhaps inevitable. The whole bit sounds like a testimony from a Liberal Tent Revival, which, while surprising, in my book isn't a bad thing.

What I see now is that this sort of "satori" should not surprise anyone. I've come to the opinion that while young people might be brainwashed and bent to their parents odd Republican Views, if they get a taste of how things truly are, then true human nature comes through. To me, this is the propensity to brotherhood, fair play, and downright kindness. Sounds pretty Liberal to me. After all, these kids aren't stupid, just young.

The point is, like any truly thinking and feeling person, this kid, and mine, have seen that to live together in peace, we have to live together, in peace. We can't steal our neighbor's lunch money because we want to buy a steak at Delmonico's (or we can't play Enromonics because we want to be filthy stinking rich). We can't piss on our neighbor's lawn because we're too lazy to walk into our house and use the john (or we can't unilaterally send nuclear toxins to a mine in Nevada if they don't want it there, even if they did vote for Bush and might deserve it).

Our children know the right answer, in their heart of hearts. We don't tell them it's there, and the worst evil we can do is to tell them (or let someone else tell them) the wrong answer.

Our children will do the right thing if we stop brainwashing them with the garbage of generations past, the succeed at all costs, devil take the hindmost, screw your neighbor before he screws you bullshit.

It was a learning experience to be there when this kid woke up, and I'm grateful for it. He showed me that all is not hopeless, at least on the small scale. The "powers that be" should be worried.

Besides, his poetry isn't half bad.

Tyler Durden is a failed political candidate who abuses his position as a Technical Writer to compose political commentary as a form of therapy.

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