Monday, May 07, 2007

Katie’s elixir

Spot's had a very busy and interesting day—for a dog—so he won't spend much time on Katie today. In Guess what troubles young people the most? Katie tells us that young people are yearning, Katie says yearning, for a return to the old ways:

"California Dreamers" [a survey of California teens] summarizes its findings this way: "The poll reveals a deep yearning among 16- to 22-year-olds for traditional structures - marriage, parenthood [and] religion."

Spot looked at the linked survey to find this quote to see what the "and" might stand for, but couldn't find it. Katie continues:

Do Minnesota's young people share these yearnings? Absolutely, says the Rev. Efrem Smith of the Sanctuary Covenant Church, a multiethnic congregation in north Minneapolis. Smith has spent his life working with youth, and speaks nationally on the subject.

"This generation is deeply marred by family breakdown," he told me. Many young people are victims of our society's epidemic of out-of-wedlock childbearing and divorce, he says. Even children from intact families often feel neglected by busy or preoccupied parents.

"Kids understand that a strong, loving family is the core, the base, of what it takes to develop a moral compass, a sense of purpose, an identity," says Smith, even if many self-absorbed older folks have forgotten this inconvenient truth.

Smith's own parents never missed his football games or school talent shows, he says. So he first experienced young people's anger over family breakdown as a varsity basketball coach at Minneapolis' Roosevelt and Patrick Henry high schools, where a substantial number of kids are in poverty.

"Inconvenient truth?" Boy, that Katie can sure turn a phrase! What's the answer? Well, religion, of course:

Smith sees a connection between kids' anxiety over abandonment and neglect, and their spiritual hunger. As a longtime youth worker, he says, he's convinced that "this void, this hole from having no moral compass or guidance at home, can only be filled spiritually."

Yessir, there is nothing like a bowl of Moral Fiber every morning to cure what ails you. Never mind that your mom works two low-paying part-time jobs with no benefits for a minimum wage that Tim Pawlenty and Spot's own state senator Geoff Michel think is just hunky dory. Never mind that Katie would destroy the public school system in a heartbeat if she could. If we just had more pious poor people, it would all work out. No muss, no fuss.

Oh Katie, before you embrace the survey in its entirety, you may wish to consider the fact that over 80% of the kids surveyed also thought that undocumented immigrants should be given a path to citizenship. Bummer.


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