How optimistic are you about our country's future?

June 20, 2014

I was talking with a group of men Thursday after a community event when the conversation turned to the problem of young people quitting after only a few days on the job and, in general, not wanting to work.

As you'd expect, political explanations were offered for why this would be. In general, the sense of some in the group seemed to be that the country was going to hell in a handbasket.

Politics aside, I guess I'm an optimist at heart. I share Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus' concern that Americans' confidence level in Congress has sunk to a record low of 9 percent. Straus was in Victoria to speak about economic development and the future of Texas.

But I have tremendous faith in the young people of this community and the country. My wife and I have been blessed with having two terrific kids, and we've been doubly fortunate to get to know their teenage friends. All are outstanding in their own way, brimming with exuberance and desire to make the world a better place.

I also have been privileged to serve on the board of the Victoria Independent School District Education Foundation. In that capacity, I get to read scholarship applications every year. My jaw drops as I read each one, marveling at these students' stories, accomplishments and goals.

You might argue that these are the best and the brightest and that too many kids get left behind. I know that's true, but I'm not in the camp that a societal decline has damaged more young people than ever before. There were good kids and bad kids when I was in school, and that's still true.

We have a lot of young people like the one Advocate letter writer Gerald Carter encountered while shopping recently. A teenage boy saw Carter struggling to get his purchases into his vehicle, walked over and helped.

"Meeting this young man made my day and gave me a different view of what teenagers can be if they have parents who care,' Carter wrote. "Thank you, young man. I will think of you often and wish you well in whatever you choose to do."

Our kids will leave us empty-nesters soon, but I never want to lose sight of the promise, excitement and abilities of our future leaders. What stories do you have to share about the younger generation?