To use marketing speak, to help build my “brand,” I’ve been giving speeches/talks to all sorts of groups ranging from Rotary and Kiwanis clubs to associations of veterans and even at senior living centers. At one, a history professor asked me after my talk titled “North Korea – the Threat, The Truth and our Options,” if I would speak to her classes.
So there I was, in front of about twenty students, mostly freshmen and sophomores and being recorded when the thought hit me, they’re young enough to be my grand children. Or, maybe I’m old enough to be their grandfather.
The question in my mind is how do you relate to people whose lives revolve around video games, texting, Facebook, Instagram and the next cool, if that is a word they would use, app that comes along. To many of them, what’s trending in social media is more important than the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism is Iran and North Korea would like to threaten the U.S. with nuclear tipped missiles.
Part of the disconnect comes from the difference in our ages and where we are in life. They don’t have the stress that comes from competing in the workplace or looking at their children wondering if they will be able to provide for them, or what they will be like when they grow up.
I also wondered how much these kids knew about the world around them. Given what I have seen in the high school history books used by my grandkids, history is so watered down that it is pablum. But that is another topic for another time.
Thinking I was well prepared, I started speaking. The class was an hour and I planned to yak for about forty minutes and then take questions. However, I did tell them that if they had a question or didn’t understand something I said, please raise your hand.
Looking out into the group, one student was struggling to stay awake. The professor did not permit cell phone use during class so there was no texting or surfing going on. I was pleasantly surprised when twenty minutes into my “lecture,” a student raised his hand. It broke the dam and the questions started and I still finished the material, but I was still answering questions when we had to stop.
Granted, many of the questions came from the same individuals, but nonetheless, the majority were good ones even though some came from way out in left (I don’t mean that politically) field. All in all it was fun. And, this small sample of young people had an interest in the world around them that was more encompassing than when the next iPhone or video game is about to be released. That means we old folks should have confidence that one day, they will grow up, have children and may take an interest in the world around them.