From the Braver Institute
By now you have probably heard about the school bus monitor who was harassed to the point of tears by a group of kids. The whole thing was caught on video (as is everything these days) and those who have seen it have been shocked, and rightfully so.
While I do believe that the frequency and the level of cruelty of incidents like this may have increased, I do not believe that these types of actions are anything new. We just live in a world where everything is caught on video, and technology allows the world to see it via 24-hour news channels and the internet. Our instant access to it all makes us more aware of all that is wrong in the world.
People say things like “kids never used to behave like that.” I am here to tell you that they did. I know, I was once a kid, and I remember the things that we used to do. Many of us were unconscionable brats, and the only kids that anyone took notice of, were the unconscionable brats. The kids who were doing what they were supposed to be doing went largely unnoticed.
These days, we are shocked at a video of kids reducing a woman to tears because (thankfully) such a thing is not commonplace. This sort of thing does not happen all of the time. If it did, we would not be shocked by it at all.
Many young people have little regard for the feelings of others, and understandably so.
If you think about it, an infant is one of the most selfish creatures on the planet. An infant thinks of itself and no one else. As this infant grows, it slowly becomes more aware of those around it. Since this happens at different rates for different people, it comes as little surprise to me that we have adolescents and teens who are not yet able to empathize with others.
Recent studies have shown that, in many cases, people are not capable of fully understanding the repercussions of their actions until they are in their late twenties.
As a young adult—much older than these kids on the bus—I remember the behavior of my peers. Some gave little regard to the people around them, and were often loud and obnoxious. The older we grew, the more embarrassed we were to have these people around. Unfortunately, those of us who behaved ourselves were lumped in with the obnoxious ones, because it was their obnoxiousness that drew the attention of the rest of the world.
Don’t get me wrong—I am not saying that I was some kind of angel as a youth. There were times when I was really bad, and I am not proud of many of the things I have done. I think I finally grew out of it all sometime after I turned 30.
The real tragedy here is that the young people who do what they are supposed to do and behave like fine, upstanding citizens, get lumped in with the handful of bad apples. The good deeds of the many are largely overshadowed by the ill deeds of the few.
I have had opportunity to work with several groups of young people (I won’t call them kids, because they behave more respectably than a lot of adults) who, unfortunately, will most likely never receive the amount of press that a handful of jerks will get. I would like to do my part to help tip the scales ever so slightly in their favor.
If I had not recently been personal witness to the kindness and generosity of these people, I too might believe that the world is going to hell-in-a-handbasket, but now I know differently. I have seen them give both their time and money to help others— people they do not know, and in some cases, will never meet. I have seen them set aside their personal differences (an amazing thing at any age) and pull together as a team for the benefit of others.
Their actions have done much to restore and maintain my faith in humanity.
The world of the future will not be in the hands of a pack of troublemakers on a bus. The world of the future will be in the capable hands of these youths, and this is my thank you to them.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the Braver Institute at www.braverinsitute.com