This Is All Wrong

Is it a call to action or a call to nihilism, the belief that life is meaningless because they’re all going to die anyway? Why bother if it’s too late, if things are so terrible that we’re all doomed? Is this how young people should view their world? Carol Roth argues that the message is the problem.

Children today should be enjoying their youth. They arguably live in the greatest time ever, with unparalleled access to information, connectivity around the globe, advances in health care and tremendous opportunity. But instead of embracing optimism, the adults in their lives are filling them with fear.

In the last few weeks, from town halls on climate change to “climate justice” marches, I have seen scores of children – some teens, some squarely of elementary school-age – proclaim their anxiety about the world ending.

In what is described as either an impassioned plea from the face of global warming or the abuse of an indoctrinated child, Greta Thunburg has become the voice of climate doom and political failure.

She’s no climate scientist. She’s just 16 years old, and has numerous personal issues. Yet, she’s become the “environmental activist” of the moment, making bold assertions that capture the fear of many in her generation.

Depending on the source, children are being told that if we don’t act right now to solve one particular “crisis” or another, we will all be dead in anywhere from 18 months to 12 years. That’s not a message of hope and optimism that kids should be embracing.

As Roth argues, this isn’t about the virtues of young people being “woke” to important issues like climate change, but about the message of death and doom, that it’s too late, that we’re all going to die. That there is no hope.

But she’s just a young girl, so we shouldn’t put too much stock in her negativity or predictions? Global warming is just one of the fears that have seized young people. They may not live long enough to suffer the end of times because of school shootings.

When a senator tells a student “you’re right  to feel that way” when she fears dying every day, Kamala Harris validates a belief that a 1 in 614,000,000 possibility should be a prominent, daily concern in a young person’s world. What’s a kid to believe?

The tragic death of children, the end of times, are certainly powerful tools for manipulating opinion, particularly for those more inclined toward feeling than thinking. But this is an adult perspective. What does this mean for the children who are being used as pawns?

Negativity is all around us, from mainstream media to social media. It’s not healthy for us to be constantly consuming a negative information diet, particularly when the general outlook for life is so robust. We need more gratitude towards the abundance, opportunities and advancements that surround us.

As an adult, if you want to mire yourself in pessimism, that’s your choice. But please, leave the kids out of it.

It’s not that society doesn’t have problems to face. We do. We always have. And whether we will overcome them this time remains to be seen, although human resilience remains quite the marvelous thing. But that doesn’t address the damage being done to the young in the process.

If the world is telling you that pretty much everything that matters will end with your death and destruction, that there is no future of happiness, that the sky is constantly falling and even if we fix one problem, the next problem will still “get” you, what’s the point?

These are curious times. We are safer than we’ve ever been. Our medical capabilities were unimaginable to your grandparents. Gay people can marry and while racism remains, society has made huge strides. And there are significantly more women getting college and advanced degrees than men, although you wouldn’t know it from the growth in their grievances.

In the little niche of criminal law, hundreds of wrongfully convicted have been exonerated and freed. Pervasive video has conclusively shown that our cries of years ago, that cops sometimes beat or kill people for no good reason, is real. The one-way carceral ratchet is being addressed with life plus cancer sentences being reduced for some, even though there remains many innocent people in prison and many serving grossly excessive sentences. It’s far from perfect, but it’s moving in the right direction, even if too slowly and inconsistently.

Is the future so bright, you gotta wear shades? In many ways, it is. In many ways, it isn’t. But facing our problems with overwhelming negativity and doom leaves young people without hope.

This isn’t their fault. If all you feed them is terror, then what else could we expect but a world of terrorized kids.

But the world really is that horrible? But the fears are real, the problems are real, the world is truly horrible? First, this isn’t real. It’s not that the problems aren’t real, but that the overwhelming sense of doom is a lie perpetrated to manipulate people’s opinions. Fear is a powerful weapon, far more so than joy and hope, and it’s used to game your emotions to get you on board with ideas that would otherwise seem outrageous and absurd. This is nothing new.

Second, so what? If we’re all going to die anyway, then spending the rest of our existence wallowing in the misery of coming disaster isn’t going to change it. What will change it is the hope that there is a wonderful future worth fighting for, worth working toward. The belief that we wake up every morning with the possibility that we can overcome problems that seemed impossible to solve is what pushes us forward. And when we push forward, we strive to find solutions.

We’re killing our children. It’s not their fault they live in fear and have given up hope. It’s ours, for giving them nothing but doom to look forward to. Greta Thunberg is right when she says “this is all wrong.” Our children have a wonderful future ahead of them, and by believing in it, and fighting for it out with intelligence rather than emotion, it can be achieved.

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Do it for the children.

35 thoughts on “This Is All Wrong

  1. Jevioso

    When it comes to these issues, I think the conservative right is making similar mistakes to what it did during the Civil Rights Movement. Where you have an obvious social problem, but is so caught up in defense mode, that they are not coming up with counter-solutions to the bad ideas coming from the left, leaving the left to win by default.

    I keep looking for right-leaning solutions to climate change or global warming, and though I respect certain people like Alex Epstein who do fight and defend the virtues of the current energy industries and the global warming hysteria, there are few people who are making any legitimate arguments to counter that coming from the left. Yeah, Trump isn’t supporting the climate change lobby, as well, but the rationales coming from him and his admin are so bad, that it makes the arguments coming from the left look more convincing.

    We can lament the woke kids and how indoctrinated they are, but as you correctly stated, we live in an age of unlimited access to information, when it comes to these particular issues, can we honestly say, there has been a counter to the woke information that the kids keep getting? Information, coiming from legitimate sources and offers solutions to the problems that people are looking for?

  2. Guitardave

    Scott, i seriously think my muse and your muse are in cahoots…or maybe it’s just grumpy old guys with their eyes open tend to see the same things. Anyway, another cobby Guitardave world premier…and again, thank you again for the stage and crowd, my brother from another mother.

    1. Howl

      I mentioned in my comment that we had better music. This proves that we still have better music. Thank you, Guitardave.

  3. Howl

    Is it really any different now from when we were growing up, facing overpopulation, mass starvation, environmental catastrophe, nuclear annihilation? At least, as you’ve pointed out before, we had better music:

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s very different. Not that we didn’t face myriad potential catastrophes, but that we didn’t embrace doom as our guiding ideology. Maybe it was sex, drugs and rock and roll, but we could protest and still wake up the next day filled with wonder about what great thing would happen. Why is that?

      1. Howl

        I don’t know. I do remember a few young folks 40-some years ago saying that they didn’t want to bring kids into this doomed world. Is doom really the guiding ideology, or is it just that now anybody can add their voice to the cacophony? That is, has technology enabled a small percentage to amplify their voice more than could be done a few decades ago?

        1. Howl

          p.s. You wrote “Maybe it was sex, drugs and rock and roll . . .” Seems that the young’uns today have easier access to sex and drugs, but no good rock and roll. That must be it!

            1. Guitardave

              Bear, my friend, please don’t say that. As a person who has struggled with similar problems, i can tell you first hand, it ain’t the drugs. It’s the body/mind/soul of creative types that don’t have enough down time. The “road” is brutal. Lowell was a hero of mine, and though it’s hard to say, Lowell was the reason why Lowell left us too soon.

            2. Bear

              I’d like to apologize to Howl and Guitardave, and anyone struggling with addiction. It wasn’t the drugs that led to the great Lowell’s death. Dave expressed it perfectly.

  4. Will J Richardson

    Our evolutionary heritage is the fight against nature for survival. We won and now seek new enemies.

    “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” G. Michael Hoph

  5. Roy Black

    There is an aspect of these children that greatly impresses me. Greta is 16, the Parkland students were only 15, 16 and 17, yet they were able to deliver impressive speeches before large audiences. Their maturity and impressive speaking skills are a great surprise to me. At their age I was too intimidated to speak in front of a class room let alone a huge crowd or at the UN. While we may disagree over their message and who composed it we must marvel at their youthful performances.

      1. Skink

        Having been present at a performance or two, I must agree. If the Readiest Lawyer in the Swamp was allowed in the UN during youth, Khrushchev’s shoe would have remained on his foot.

  6. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    Young people are right to fear a dystopian world coming in just a short time due to adverse climate change. And it all starts with you.

    After all, old 1 percenters like you, Mr. Shitlord, (1) continue to drive Healey’s, without catalytic converters, emitting multiple micrograms of CO2 (µg/m3), (2) refuse to adopt meatless Mondays that sustainably substitute Soylent Green, and (3) fight against effective climate change solutions like death panels for those of your ilk and age.

    Why shouldn’t they be depressed? After all, all you have as a substitute for their depression is the ennui that drips into the culture that you pollute through SJ arising from your depraved affection for the French. You should be deeply ashamed.

    Have a nice day. All the best.

    RGK

      1. PseudonymousKid

        Pops,

        You already had your good times with all the sex drugs and rock and roll you keep going on about. All I had was abstinence-only sex-ed, addiction, crappy pop music, and anxiety. Step aside, old man. I’m starving for my Soylent Green. Legal pot and Cheetos will be accepted as substitutes.

        Best,
        PK

        1. SHG Post author

          When you’re done whining about life’s unfairness, tell me how your mother failed you so miserably that you see nothing but the bad in everything?

  7. Noxx

    Assuring the children that end is nigh seems to be the human condition. Going backwards, AIDs, crack, the bombs, the germans, and once you get into the eighteenth century the church has it covered into dim history. I don’t know that nihilism is a good answer, but it seems to be the prevalent one. I thought I’d join the Tuesday music mess and link “Aenima”, but I didn’t want any of you old folks to stroke out.

      1. Noxx

        My mom spent most of her time at the bar, so probably you. I’ve tossed the bike a couple of times but I’ve never gone full Gary Busey so I doubt that’s it.

  8. Jardinero1

    I teach one period of Geometry a day at a parochial school. I do this for variety and work life balance. I get to visit with a lot of 14 to 17 year olds. My data set is limited and anecdotal, but I have never heard a kid worry openly about the environment or state that they believed the end is nigh. They talk and worry about the petty, trivial things that teenagers are wont to do. So I don’t personally believe that there is this whole generation of worried kids out there. But there are some, a small sub-set, who worry. Thunberg is the exemplar. And this is an interesting subset. What will happen, when collectively, the Thunbergs of the world, realize that society will not cave to their demands, and more importantly, the sky is not falling? Will they find a different belief system and move on with their lives or will they double down, in spite of the evidence, and go the full jihadi on us?

    1. SHG Post author

      I wonder how they would respond if you asked them about global warming or active shooters? It’s good to hear that not all teens are obsessed with doom (though I don’t know whether that changes when the get to college), but are they already so indoctrinated that they believe it even if they don’t talk about it?

      1. Jardinero1

        I can ask and see how they respond. Bear in mind that the kids I teach are from Houston. Houstonians, generally, are ambivalent about dire warnings and disasters. Houston is a town that lives by the hurricane, the flood, and cycles of energy boom followed by energy bust.

    2. Ray

      None of the above. They will sit down, write their memoirs, get an agent, go on all the correct talk shows.
      The better question is, what will they do when the money runs out.

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