Opinion: ‘Where is the concern for our country’s youth?’

Clark County Today Administrator Heidi Wetzler offers her concerns about how the current rhetoric and behavior in our country is impacting today’s youth

My childhood was simple.  Lots of playing outside, mucking about, staring at the clouds looking for hidden shapes. As I grew up, of course, I had the usual worries and concerns that go along with the formative years, but nothing compared to what our youth are faced with today.  

Heidi Wetzler
Heidi Wetzler

I will hazard a guess that most of the opinionated news anchors and keyboard warriors were blessed with the same sort of childhood that I had and are thankful for it. Are our country’s issues really that much worse than they were 30 years ago? Or have we simply become addicted to the feeling of power at our fingertips. And drunk on the high of the attack. Unfortunately, it is apparent that most don’t find it important enough to protect the mental health of our youth today, by practicing a little self control.

I feel a deep sadness for our children and young adults who drew the short straw regarding their birthdates and how they are attempting to figure out their lives in the current socio political environment while at the same time dealing with all of the other uncertainties surrounding growing up. They are exposed to adults all around them fighting for “noble” causes with anger and venom — how ironic. The reasons behind why each person passionately feels a certain way may good and well be honorable, but the irresponsible, immature, incapable of civil dialogue translation is in my opinion devastating for our youth. I know young people that do not want to live in this country. I know young people who are desperate to feel like their future is bright. I know young people who do not want to live at all. 

I am grateful that I didn’t have to grow up during times like this. I’m unsure how I would have coped. You may feel like you are imparting the most morally justified wisdom to everyone around you and enlightening the entire world with your fool-proof version of the truth, but are you even slightly concerned regarding the cost to the minds, and hearts, and outlook of our future generations? I am heart broken by this. And I am angry.

Just to be clear, I’m not speaking to one particular viewpoint or another. I’m speaking to the whole of our country, our “leaders,” and much of our citizenry who have completely lost their composure and civility in the supposed defense of love or justice. Take a look at many of the activists. How old are they? Young. They are frustrated and confused, angry and impressionable. They bear heavy burdens. They have little life experience to know how they really feel about certain issues.  Lost is the ability to agree to disagree. Every issue is one of life and death. Everyone who doesn’t agree with you is a hateful, terrible person. And who do you think they have learned this from? Making your way as a young person was hard enough in my day. I simply cannot imagine navigating those years today.

I am absolutely crushed for the stress and anxiety and negativity our youth are slapped in the face with every day. Shame on the older generation for being angry, finger-pointing role models. And then there is the incessant bombardment of the fight of the day thanks to the invention of social media. I am confident that if social media would never have been invented, our country and world would be better for it. Our lives would never have evolved away from face-to-face interaction. We would still see and feel the human on the other side of our words. Advancements are not always advancements. And the cruel joke is on you and me. All of a sudden the issues feel impossible to conquer. We live divided, and proud.

I know there is no going back, and I’m not suggesting we keep our youth and young adults ignorant or paint the world a rose-colored hue, but I am begging that we pause and consider the negative arena we are creating. This is not the only way. But we all have to want something different in order to rise up and fight for it. We need to all understand that presidents and those in power will come and go as they always have. And life continues to go on. I want to advise our young (and old) to look for the beauty in each day. Have spontaneous interactions with the people who are around you. Be neighborly. Life should be so much more than ideas and platforms and issues.

We teach kindergartners to work together, to compromise, to be nice to one another, to not hit, and to forgive. Why are our leaders and citizens unable to model what we expect to be appropriate behavior of a 5 year old child?

I still have a naïve hope that there will be a revelation in peoples’ hearts that will change the current course of our broken country. Our children are watching and learning from all of us. There is literally everything at stake. We simply must do better.