We’ve had many letters in recent months – pretty much every paper around the province has, I’d imagine – from students worried about the labour dispute between teachers and the government.
These letters sometimes lean towards supporting the teachers, sometimes towards the government, but for the most part, the students just want the dispute to be over with. Those students who are inspired enough to write letters are also the type who take their education seriously. So it must be a shock to these kids to see empty rhetoric, anger, petty vindictiveness, and unrealistic demands from the adults.
Ultimately, the kids seem to suggest that the grown-ups should, y’know, grow up and solve things.
Sorry, kids. I know you’re missing out on some schooling right now, but you are getting an irreplaceable lesson in what adults are actually like.
This is what people become once we turn 18, 30, 40 or 99: we’re jackasses.
It’s a credit to children that they have faith that adults are more emotionally mature, more rational, more reasonable.
We’re not, by any stretch of the imagination.
Adults are jaded, and cynical, and poisoned by either failure or success,
both of which seem to be toxic.
Too much failure leaves you bitter and angry, resentful of anyone who’s done better than you. You delight in the failures of others, because it makes you seem less alone down in your misery pit. And of course, anyone who did well must have cheated to get where they are, scammed a corrupt system.
Success seems to make you feel entitled to your privileges, full of yourself, and it gnaws away at your compassion and empathy like a rabid, mangy sewer rat, until you’d rather watch someone starve on the street than toss them a coin. Luck or help from others is forgotten the higher you ascend, until you’re in an elite club of self-made snobs who owe nothing to anyone.
You can weave between the Scylla of self-recrimination and the Charybdis of pomposity, but it ain’t easy.
Adulthood, if you let it, slowly eats your soul.
It’s certainly taken a few bites from
both sides in the teachers dispute, both of whom have considered the other side the enemy for so long they’ve lost sight of reason. The hatred from one side is just fuelling the other, at this point. It’s a toxic spiral of retribution.
To the adults out there: have you ever seen a model UN or met some of the bright young kids who organize student councils or run charity events? They’re amazing, aren’t they? Bright, positive, convinced that they can make a difference.
And then they grow up and the world starts to wear them down, and before you know it, way too many of them have turned into adults like the rest of us sad sacks of crap.
Out of all this justified cynicism, I think I can put forward an idea to end this teachers’ strike before it drags on into September.
We’ll replace the adult negotiators on both sides with kids aged 12 to 17. Take about two dozen of them, and randomly assign them to the government or teachers sides.
Give both sides access to the demands and proposals, and the relevant budgets saying how much is really available. Toss them an adult accountant or two to help them with the technical stuff.
I’ll bet you anything if we sat those kids down and let them go at it, they’d hash out a fair deal in a day or two.
The kids are alright.
It’s the adults who are a mess.
Matthew Claxton is a reporter and columnist for the Langley Advance, a sister paper to the Now. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.