Jul 29, 2008

Do Hard Things

Teenagers today have ZERO expectations. No one requires them to be smart, nor punctual, nor wise. No one requires them to be anything less than teenagers. I am excited that I am finally overcoming that time in my life. The 'high school drama party mean-girls' part. What's sad is that cultural expectations of teens are so low, that the majority of kids see no reason to fulfill any sort of potential.

I read an interesting book this summer. 'Do Hard Things' by Brett and Alex Harris, two teens who had one huge desire to rise above cultural unexpectations. Their battle cry started with a blog, which literally became an instant hit. Turns out they weren't the only one frusterated with the idea that teenage life was somehow coordinated to be 'fashionable and easy'. Is there anything really farther from the truth? God calls us to be ambassadors of His name, even as teenagers. God doesn't cut us slack because 'kids will be kids', no He demands that we act with virtue and salt no matter what age we are at.

I wonder where all those things we learned as children disappeared to the second we turned 13. I wonder where the whole concept of 'no lying, be nice, no kicking, use your inside voice, treat others with respect, etc' disappeared to in the teenage years. Why did our parents become the enemy? Why is it that the only expectations we had for ourselves at 16 were to dress the best and attend all the wild parties on weekends? Why is it that society said this was okay? At what point in time did we look at the teenagers in our world and think to ourselves, "Oh, It's only a phase, they'll grow out of it when they turn 20." As if that is the official age real life begins.

Alex says this in the first ever Blog post 'The Myth of Adolescence'

My contention is simple: The young adults of our generation are the elephant. Our twine is the 20th century concept of adolescence. Our twig is societal expectations. We stand restrained as a hurting world burns around us. Yet our twine and twig are of a recent origin. Young adults of the past were not so encumbered.
David Farragut, the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, became a midshipman on the warship Essex at the age of 10. At the age of 12, a mere boy by modern standards, Farragut was given command of his first ship, sailing a capture vessel, crew, and prisoners, back to the U.S. after a successful battle. Young David was given responsibility at an early age, and he rose to the occasion.
The father of our country, George Washington, though never thought to be particularly bright by his peers, began to master geometry, trigonometry, and surveying when he would have been a 5th or 6th grader in our day and ceased his formal education at 14 years of age. At the age of 16 he was named official surveyor for Culpepper County, Virginia. For the next three years, Washington earned nearly $100,000 a year (in modern purchasing power). By the age of 21, he had leveraged his knowledge of the surrounding land, along with his income, to acquire 2,300 acres of prime Virginian land.

...The only thing holding young people back in America today is the twine of this perpetual recess called adolescence and the twig of lowered social expectations. We expect immaturity and irresponsibility, from ourselves and from one another, and that is exactly what we get.

The question that remains, is why?

Alex and Brett Harris have started something, The Rebelution. You can check out more at www.therebelution.com . There are links to the blog, and so much more. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Do not let anyone look down at you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in faith, in truth, in life, in love, and in purity." But to do that, we need to live it. That might just require doing some hard things (and no, deciding between Nike and Puma doens't count).

1 comment:

Deborah said...

I've been on the Rebelution a few times. Those guys fire off some hard hitting truths! I hope -- no pray I will treat my kids with the respect they deserve as they begin to hit the teen years.