High school graduation is upon us. Young people have begun to empower themselves, while adults in charge continue to let them down. Those in charge put politics in front of common sense when it comes to gun control, the environment, and a collapsing Social Security system that may run out of money because their parents and grandparents did nothing to stop it.

The Parkland shooting survivors galvanized together and that was refreshing. It gives rise to hope for the next generation, replacing the much-maligned millennials who’ve been criticized for their lack of resilience and their entitlement ― the result of parenting and cultural decisions that rewarded participation more than results, and culminated in parents cheating to get their kids into a good college.

While lauding Parkland teens for standing up and saying “enough,” there is also the recent story of Parkland student Kyle Kashuv, whose admission to Harvard was revoked because of racist comments he made after the shootings. While most Parkland students promoted gun control background checks and commonsense legislation, Kashuv vocally supported NRA talking points, advocating other ways to keep schools safer.

Kashuv’s sincere apology fell short, at least in the eyes of the Harvard admission team. Should a 16-year-old’s mistake ruin his life or be a step in the learning process? The grownups have spoken and said this is learning through consequences. Kashuv will need to find redemption another way.

It’s the positive that is exciting, and the hope the pendulum is swinging back to the left. Pendulum theory says that to come to a resting spot in the middle, it must go back and forth, forming a rhythmic pattern, before finding true center.

The strict “Leave It to Beaver” parenting of the ’50s led to a revolution and the hippy era arose. The free love of the ’60s morphed into a liberal parenting pathway for the ’70s. The ’80s began to swing back with parents trying to guide and lead their children, swinging farther right as helicopter parents told their children, in subtle ways, that they weren’t capable of handling failure, and success was all that mattered, robbing them of learning’s biggest tool.

When you take failure out of the tool box, you take away resiliency ― bruised egos replace bruised knees.

As we watch the newest generation emerge, one garners hope that the pendulum is swinging back to the left and perhaps ready for gentler swings into middle space, before resting in the center.

Locally, hope rises from recent observations; the small graduating class at Watershed School in Camden was proof our youth can excel when given wings and the opportunity to fly. Their ceremony was filled with hope, joy, desire and positive aspirations that will lead them into adulthood and the next generation of parenting.

When butterflies are seen struggling to break out of their cocoons, and well-meaning parents and teachers rush to help them break out, unable to watch them struggle and break the walls themselves, the butterflies are quickly eaten by predators. It is the struggle to get out of the cocoon that builds muscles in their wings, allowing them to fly into life and away from those that would eat them. Too much help robs them of strength, putting them in grave jeopardy.

It is freedom to solve challenges that provides life skills; nature has that built in, but sometimes fighting nature leads to paths of destruction. Finding the fine line between teaching and doing it for them is the balance beam.

Another encouraging “youth moment” centers on the young people of Camden Hills Regional High School who are gathering momentum to take a bold step with their high school newspaper. These young journalists want to tackle subjects that will move the needle and get themselves, and their peers, thinking and talking. They want guidance, not an administration telling them what they can and can’t write about.

They’ve been blessed with that freedom, as the high school appears to be encouraging and not overly heavy-handed. Administration has rightly put its foot down on attacking teachers or allowing libel, but has left an open pathway for these young adults to create something for themselves.

This is progress. This is hope. This is a pathway to a future where perhaps the pendulum can find a gentle rocking motion, finding its balance in the middle. The big shifts to the left and right are necessary in finding true center, but, if the youth of today can find peace and solace in life in the middle, perhaps our politics will follow.

Eight years of Obama hatred, replaced by four (perhaps eight) years of Trump hating, is moving the needle. The notion that the pendulum’s swing gets reduced to four Trump years would suggest perhaps we are ready for the middle; eight years might mean more violent and volatile movements are needed before we get there. Our graduating classes will have a say in 2020.



“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” ― Anne Frank, Holocaust diarist (1929-1945)