I enjoy your blog but my husband and I have a practical problem and I am wondering if you can help us? My children are in high school both will be receiving honours once again this year. But my son he is wanting to work in the music and for my daughter she wants to be writing the plays. It is good I think that my children have these interests but we argue a lot because I am very concerned
about their ability to earn a living. Do you have any advice for us?
Dear Worried Mother,
Thank you for writing. And thank you for raising such fine children. Obviously they are smart and both clearly have big hearts that they want to share through their work. I understand and respect your concerns. When we’re older and can see how practical later life truly is, it’s easy to see that sometimes people are setting themselves up to climb some pretty steep hills. But let’s not forget we climbed some hills ourselves too. Every life has hills, the only question is which hills?
The truth is there is an entire generation who watched their parents come home from work exhausted, bitchy and complaining about money. Money and work were the two biggest problems in most houses by most kids accounts. So they don’t see those things as routes to a happy life and they’re right. Way too many people over 40 simply aren’t very happy at all so they don’t have much ability to teach their kids how to do it. And it’s actually a healthy thing that they don’t want to follow in our footsteps. It’s not like we did a great job running the world Mom.
We destroyed the environment, we turned war into a profit industry, and we left literally billions suffering in poverty while we let other individuals have enough money for literally millions of lifetimes. That is insane and the kids are right to say so. So far from worrying, maybe you should actually be excited. Because if I were to re-phrase what you wrote, it might sound like “…and my son wants to share his soul through music and my daughter wants to change the world through her storytelling.”
One of the most inspiring parts of my life is my work teaching film to college students. Again this year I found myself in a classroom filled with sparkling, brilliant, unique minds. Minds like your kid’s. And I hope I helped them develop and maintain a healthy respect for what binds human beings together (the emotional sinews that make storytelling mysterious to Mr. Spock), all while empowering their own unique vision.
I never want my students of any type to look for how to be great in the eyes of others. I want to them to realize the greatness they already possess. Like Michelangelo who looked at the stone and carved away everything that wasn’t an angel, each year I meet a group of students who possess greatness—all they need is the life experience necessary to chisel some angles into their being. And their art will be the light of their consciousness glinting off those angles.
By delving into the whys of the things they witness, and by representing those through their art-form, they help us to uncover the world around us. They help us to see. This is why radio, TV and film people are the first ones locked up by despotic leaders during a coup. And they’re followed closely by poets, singers and every other kind of artist who dares to play court jester and comment on the behaviour of the King. This is noble work Mom. This was what Shakespeare and Beethoven and Mozart did. Do we think they wasted their lives?
Because I spend time delving into the places from where art comes from, I don’t get why so many adults are concerned about today’s generation. Would I like more of them to know how to grow food, or understand practical chemistry or mathematics? Yes. But they’ve also watched a generation be slaves to their work and often the only place they saw that lead was a life that continues to lack much freedom at all. They actually prioritize their enjoyment of their existence. That might look lazy to their parents and grandparents, but that’s only because those generations were more profoundly bound up by their beliefs.
Because of how things were phrased their parents accepted ideas that were otherwise pretty crazy. Things like letting private corporations create money from thin air, and then letting them charge interest on that invention, like the US Federal Reserve does when it loans money to banks that in turn loan it to us. That is a pretty nutty idea. Some guys just create their own money, then they loan it to banks and they get to charge interest for it even though it cost them nothing to get it? That’s just so silly you think it must not be true—but it is!
My generation lived with that crazy idea because we didn’t know that’s where the money came from. We didn’t know it was invented from nothing and then sold for profit! But 90% of my college students have seen the latter two Zeitgeist films about the monetary system. They’re open to things being different. They get that there’s nothing stopping us from sending life-saving medicine to Africa except the thoughts that we can’t. If those dying kids were German, or Japanese, or if 30,000 British kids were dying every day we would have the medicine there in no time. What’s the difference? Thoughts. And because kids can see that they have a different set of priorities. A healthier set.
I like that I see young people shaking things up. Yeah, the group before them came up with some cool stuff like going to the Moon, the Internet, tearing down the Berlin Wall, and freeing Nelson Mandela. But this generation will do likewise. And it will do so by strenuously believing in a different value system. Not one made of words that form borders or ideologies or positions, but one made of love—one that we can feel when we engage with it. We had an Iron Age and an Industrial Revolution and a Technical Revolution and now we’re experiencing a Spiritual Revolution based on the priorities of joy and love and compassion. It’s beautiful.
Everyone keeps complaining about the world. I see some young people shaking some of its foundations and too often they are being called crazy when they should be seen as visionary. Because we have let insane thought limitations prevent us from making the world a much, much better place. We’ve let the ideas of borders and profit and status contort our beings into doing things that are truly inhuman. So it’s nice to see kids questioning that. It’s nice to see them challenging how it’s been. Because how it’s been has been pretty crappy for too many people for way too long. So it’s time to stop thinking about ourselves as individuals and it’s time to start think of ourselves as a Cooperative. Because that is always what we’ve always been anyways.
So join your children in their priorities. Follow your bliss. Question your priorities. Don’t be in such a rush to get to work on time that you don’t hold doors for people. Say please and thank you. Buy someone lunch. Even the new Pope is on board. Hoarding wealth we’ve tried and there’s too many unhappy people. Let’s voluntarily share it because it makes everyone happier—including the people who are rich.
Here’s to the kids. Lead us out of the world of symbols. Stop our worship of false idols. Let’s have love guide our actions. Let’s make our spirituality and our humanity one thing by joining them together as a verb—as an action we take in this universe. Let us nurture our connections because love is what we value most. And may the pursuit of it in its truest form be what all of our futures are made of.