The future is here…
This week we have the conclusion to a couple of the big stories that have been buried among the huge stories of the Brits Gone Wild-Baby Gate times 2. The Brits have their act together because their biggest problems are what to call the future King and the fact that Simon Cowell’s baby batter works. You would think that someone as wealthy and popular as Mr. Sarcastic would know that medical science solved the problems of unintended consequences years ago. Maybe the Brits aren’t as advanced as one might think.
Anyway, here in the Colonies, we are behaving just as badly. Two of our youngest and brightest treasures Bradley Manning and Eric Snowden’s fates have been decided. Bradley Manning will be spending the majority of his life in big boy jail because he downloaded almost 500,000 classified files to a digital transfer device and gave it to Wiki-Leaks, which disseminated the secrets to the world. Eric Snowden will now get to be a Russian citizen curtsey of the dear leader, Vladimir Putin. I am not sure which is worse, winters in a one bedroom apartment under the watchful eye of the KGB or hanging out in a Federal Prison with three meals a day and walks in the courtyard.
These two men had a desire to stick it to the man, and they did. I am not too upset with them because they were being true to their nature. I don’t like it, but I can understand it. According to Wikipedia (I know it is not a source that can be fully trusted) these guys had a turbulent upbringing coming from divorced parents. They were bullied, teased, ostracized, and eventually left alone where their rage manifested itself from an idea to action. You can read about these two guys if you want. I did and while it didn’t change my thoughts, it did give some insight for me into how they became who they are.
If I am angry with anyone, it is the US Army and the NSA and the contractors that work for the NSA. With any kind of hindsight at all, it is easy to see that both of these guys were unstable and should not have been allowed to hold a TOP SECRET clearance. It is frustrating because I promise you that their co-workers knew they were a threat. I promise you that their supervisors knew they had issues. I don’t know if they were ever interviewed by the military’s equivalent of the FBI. In the Air Force they are known as the OSI (Office of Special Investigations). In the Army I believe they are known as the CID (Criminal Investigation Division) the Navy’s version has their own TV show, NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services). Part of their job is to conduct interviews and background checks for military members who hold Secret Clearances; since it is not as glamorous as a crime scene or spy chase, it doesn’t make the show.
The real life version of these organizations failed the country, plain and simple. They did not do their job and the country was harmed. We as a country believe in individual self-determination, which I do. And we as a country believe in free will, which I do. Then it must be that some people will use their self-determination and free will to do harm to the things that we value. As a nation we have set up a safety net to protect us from these individuals and in both of these cases the safety net failed.
But I don’t want to talk about these losers. I want to talk about winners. Yesterday, my wife and I hosted 25 kids from an Arkansas Church that were in West Virginia doing some charitable work for people up here. They also assisted with a Vacation Bible School, but most importantly they bonded as a youth group. These young folks ranged from 9th graders to recent high school graduates. My wife and I served them a meal and spend about an hour with them. An hour is not long enough to know them in a personal way. But a person can have some general observations from that short interaction.
If the statistics are correct, then about half of them come from divorced parents, many of them may have a home life that is abusive. They all go to a school were illegal drugs are available, and some of them may be addicted to something. Many of them are under a doctor’s care for ADD or other behavioral issue. A couple of them may be sexually active and it is quite possible one of them may be a parent. One or two of them may be honor students, a couple kids were in the band, a couple of them were athletes but most were just regular kids that have been bullied, pushed around and ostracized. It is possible that one or two of them would consider themselves homosexual. They are no different than any of the kids that live in your area.
And they are not any different than Mr. Manning or Mr. Snowden. Looking at the population statics between 1980 and 2000 each year there were about 3.5-4.0 million people born in the US every year. Bradley Manning was one of 3.8 million born in 1987. Of that 3.8 million people, Manning is in the 1% club. In that club are the criminals. Those who will spend time in prison, who will sale used cars and will be elected to Congress. The other 99% of the people born that year face the same issues Mr. Manning faced but instead of lashing out at those who harmed them. The 99% will work on their lives; they will become responsible adults and will live their lives with honor. Stop reading now, and go look in the mirror. The odds are that you are in the 99% club with me. Congratulations.
The kids that were in my home yesterday are the future. They all have problems and they all will have to figure out how to navigate through the mind fields, just as I had to do. Just as my parents had to do and as the cavemen had to do. That is the human condition. It is time that we start to celebrate the 99%. It is time that we as a nation stop complaining about the youth. It is time that we look at the millions of kids who are finding success in the world. Most of the young people in the nation today are not living the way, I did. But they are on a path to be productive citizens.
When I find myself in a group of young folks, I realize that they are no different than I was. They are not different than you were. The environment may be different but the kids are the same. It is easy to focus on the failures, those who are train wrecks determined to destroy everything in their world. I encourage all of everyone to join me and take the opposite path. I will focus on the 99%.