Jay Rifenbary

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Appreciating the Youngster In All of Us

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As I enjoyed my recent birthday, I reflected on earlier days and realized I am happier now then those many years ago. I may have had a bit more fun, energy, in better physical shape, and willing to take more risks, but the abundance and joy of living today comes from within. This is only revealed to each of us, celebrated, and understood with experience and maturity. To witness your efforts, successes, perseverance through failures, and execution of your core values come to fruition is a time for appreciation and quiet reflection. As Einstein said, “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”

There is no one, no family and no life that is perfect, but it is the journey where the roads you chose bring joy, challenge and at times sadness. The journey is not supposed to be an easy one, but a challenging and demanding one. Without the struggles you cannot discover your successes. Youth is an opportunity to discover and learn from those who came before us. What is our youth learning from us, and those who came before us? I find it interesting how generation after generation tends to point fingers at the younger generation for many of the ills of society. Is it me, or were we all not part of a younger generation at one time? I find it humorous that a baby boomer, such as myself, could ever say with a straight face that growing up we were pure as the driven snow in all our behaviors and attitudes. Anybody remember the 60’s? Many years ago, I can vividly remember my parents reflecting on my generation stating, “What is this world coming to?”

Yet, it is and has always been the younger generation that eventually replaces the present generation, carries the torch, and with it has come enhanced creativity, innovation, technology and amazing human advancements. If there are aspects of the younger generation that disturb you, what are you doing as a parent, professional,community leader and citizen to lessen that disturbance? What are your expectations of the younger generation, and are you setting an example that would live up to your own expectations? Having served on the local school board, coached our youth, serving on the Service Academy Selection Committee, and continue to be a parent, I have witnessed the skills and talents our youth possess and the accomplishments that many have achieved. It is not the time to disparage our youth, but to motivate, inspire and encourage our young people to work hard, achieve their dreams, and provide them the insight to live up to their potential.

If we want our children to be ethical, accountable, be mannerly, have a strong work ethic and be respectful, are we as the adults that surround them setting that example? Why would a child believe in the importance of being accountable when there are adults who blame everything around them for the failures in their life? Why would a child believe in the importance of being ethical and honorable when there are adults who are dishonest and dishonorable? Why would a child believe in what intrinsically brings happiness when society is focused on materialism, consumption, an acceptance of disrespect and a lack of civility? Throughout my years of speaking, which includes young audiences, I have always found our youth yearning for structure, discipline and those who have the character to stand up for what they feel is right. There is no respect generated by the young toward an elder if the elder lacks moral fortitude, integrity, and is inconsistent in their beliefs and behaviors.

Our youth want to learn, they want strong examples and they desire to be better than those from generations past. If we as adults, parents and community leaders do not take the high road why would we expect our youth to be any different? Let us all display a belief in the goodness and potential of our youth, not through artificial praise and giving them trophies for showing up to practice, but rather by providing them the time, energy, setting a positive example, and being the role model for them to have a bright and fulfilling future. As Emerson said, “The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood.”



1 Responses to Appreciating the Youngster In All of Us


1. Joe Says:

There's a terrific amonut of knowledge in this article!


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