YOUNG an adult world

During the first years of my life I was young - as were we all. I bridled at being treated with condescension and resolved that when I was in a position to do anything about it, I would be an activist in changing the slave-like condition of young people.

To my discredit I largely forgot this resolve when I came of age and although I think I was at least kind to my own children, I haven't been very militant in trying to effect significant changes in how we treat ourselves as the "present of the future."

From being in the youth culture of my time I found out about secret languages and the pleasures of mocking my elders. Older people seemed so dumb and scared of new things. I expected to be able to change things when I got in a position to do something about it. Things have changed some but I regret that I didn't do much to help.

When I arrived in San Francisco the put down phrase for young people was "juvie" which signified juvenile delinquent. There was a panel of "leaders" looking for solutions to the problem. OUR youth were completely out of hand and the community's wise elders would meet and come up with something that would end this curse. Aside from major ink (in 1951 news was more printed than aired), the major outcome was an ordinance banning switch blade knives! This attack on what had become the symbol of j.d. affected me in that I liked a pocket knife that could be easily opened with one hand and didn't break my fingernails. But for the safety and greater good of society I was prohibited from purchasing a properly designed pocket knife in the City and County of San Francisco.

Much attention is on curfews and court rulings about whether minors have rights that are stepped on by making it illegal for certain people, those under 17, to be loose in the city after a certain hour. The courts have ruled that there is no such right. In effect we have always held that young people BELONG to somebody. The only real contention among the empowered is whether the owners are the parents or the state. In matters of education (or more properly forced schooling) and certain medical procedures (inoculations and transfusions, in particular) the state takes precedence; in most other areas ownership is vested in parents.

We have all been through youth and if we can remember our participation in that culture without accepting that we were all wrong in our observations that we were a persecuted minority, we might better understand how people in other outcast cultures feel. People who raise and fight gamecocks are NOT bloodthirsty perverts; southern whites are NOT bigots; African-Americans are NOT shiftless.

There are sociopaths among us from just about every culture but if we adopt a stance of blindnessness we can learn that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

I have ten children who suffer either some of my genetics or the influence forced on them by our relationship not of their own making. I hope they get to live in a world in which conflict is one particular of cooperation and above all, not deadly.