Elise Ronan
Justice, justice, you shall pursue....

Everything is Stupid Only if You Allow It

Everything is stupid.

The kids are not ok.

The Jewish community in America is on the decline.

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” Socrates

Since time immemorial social commentators have decided that the generation that follows is self-destructive, lazy, and ignorant. They lack morals, ethics and a real purpose in life. If they were more like us, the saying goes, then we would know the future is a lock to be better than the past.

Well I for one am tired of this crap. And yes, it is crap.

The only thing that is stupid about today’s day and age is that the US elected a moron as president. Guess what? He is not the first idiot to hold public office and he is not going to be last. He is also not the first ethically challenged President from either party. Get over it. Stop complaining and do something about him. You don’t like his policies find ways to circumvent him. You don’t like what his party stands for, then vote in his rivals. You don’t like the spin? Turn.Off.The.24hour.News.Cycle.

Just stop bitching all the time. It is annoying. It is unproductive. It is infantile. That is stupid.

The kids are ok. There are challenges that our children face that no generation has ever faced before. (Please don’t talk about D-Day. It’s old, tiresome, and not to the point. There a thousands of millenials who are in the armed forces, proudly serving their country.No it is not most. But the US is not threatened with annihilation either.) American youth are privileged to have an extended adolescence. Despite what some politicians may think.

The advent of technology is changing our society quicker than we can adjust. Our children are simply trying to keep up, and they have no mentors to help them. Nothing like this has ever taken place before in human history. It is too much, too quickly, without any law, reasoning, nor societal ethos behind it. And the generations who are supposed to be their role models instead of standing their ground to direct our children, are giving into temper tantrums and spoiled brat behavior of a fringe element, and then characterizing an entire generation of young adults as worthless near-do-wells.

It is easier that way, you know. When we decide that a generation isn’t worth saving then we can deny how we created the debacle in the first place. It’s throwing our hands up and saying, “I am done. It’s not worth fighting anymore.” This way we absolve ourselves of responsibility and forethought in trying to help the millennial generation figure out what they are going to do about our broken social safety net system, the fact that there really are fewer and fewer family supporting jobs out there, that their education is either over-academic or dumbed down to the point that they are not even required to spell properly.

The kids did not create this situation. But they are blamed for it to the point of abuse.

If you want the kids to be ok, then adults, start adulting and figure out how you screwed your kids up. Then fix the mess you have created. Don’t blame the kids for trying to function and figure out a future in a world where they are told they are generally worth nothing.

You tell someone they are worth nothing long enough, that is exactly what they will do. Nothing.

By the way, every millennial I know has gone to college, graduate school, participates in charity, work very hard at jobs, have married, are having babies, working towards a future that is unsure and unsteady. They have loving, healthy relationships and are kind, good decent people.

Yes, there are many that are lost, and that is our own fault. Now WE, not they, must fix it.

And no the Jewish American young people are not disappearing. And the only future for the Jewish-American community is not just the Orthodox. The young people of today are creating their own, very uniquely American version of what it means to be Jewish and American.  And guess what? It does include supporting Israel. It does include defending Zionism. It does include raising Jewish children. It does include having an understanding of and love of your history, ancestry and wanting to pass that along to your offspring.

Does it look like what has come before? No, it does not. Is some of it presumptive, and rather naïve? Yes, it is. But that is not about an ignorance of Jewish history. That is youth, and the power to think you can change the world. Do our children want a more modern, egalitarian version of Judaism? Yes, they do. Do they want a more inclusive version of Judaism? Yes, they do. Do they want women to be able to carry the Torah at the Kotel? Yes. Do they want patrilineal decent recognized? Yes. Do they want a Judaism that embraces their reality and welcomes them unconditionally? Yes. Do they believe their modern Judaism is a living breathing version of love? Yes. You reject who they are, then you will lose them. And we then, will have only ourselves to blame.

It is not surprising that our youth have rejected the perspectives of generations past. They go onto today’s college campuses and they are all alone. Who stands with them? Where are the national Jewish American groups helping them? Are there marches, lawsuits, demands to right anti-Semitic policies in academia? Where are the national Jewish groups  when our children are being bullied, harassed and attacked on college campuses for the crime of being proud Jews? These “Jewish leaders” are nowhere to be found, except in their pledge envelopes, simply because they are cowards.

Meanwhile our Jewish youth, these millenials, these young people, who so many have written off, have created their own groups, their own organizations, and their own networks of protection. If the Jewish American experience is going to disappear, it is not because of the youth, it is because the youth have been abandoned by their elders.

So go write all the articles you want about how the Jewish youth of America are turning away from Judaism and Israel. Cite poll after poll-of course they don’t all agree with each other either. If our children turn away from Israel, and Judaism, we have no one to blame, but ourselves and our own incompetence. But stop blaming the millennials. They are searching for answers, and if we don’t give them the answers, others will and we will not like the lessons they learn. Our children have showed us they are capable of standing their ground, now they simply need to know they are not alone.

And no, before you start to kvetch, that doesn’t mean you have to have a big all-inclusive tent. Every narrative, every opinion is not valid, simply because someone states it, or holds it. Simply because you have freedom of speech, doesn’t mean that speech needs to be respected. It is ok to let them know that too. It is ok to challenge them, debate them, and make them think, analyze and understand the realities and vagaries of life, too. Life is not always the choice between being a Jedi or a Sith, there is a lot of grey in this world,  and they need to be taught that as well. Especially when it comes to Israel.

Meanwhile, in my own neck of the woods, I watch my own sons. I see how they behave. They are proud of who they are, but have decided to put their Judaism on a back-burner. I can’t get them interested beyond the typical holiday. They don’t want to discuss Israel with me. Even my son who majored in the Holocaust in college has decided to tune it all out. They have too much in general to deal with, and too much in life to contend with on a daily basis.

But then I noticed something interesting. On social media, they have become “anti-Zionist, anti-Semite hunters.” Giving the haters what for. Defending their indigenous rights, and slamming their SJW counterparts. They found their niche. They found out information from their compatriots who understand what it is to be Jewish, American, and proud. They found that they can want to celebrate this new uniquely American version of Judaism, and it also includes an understanding of Israel, and a love of the Jewish people.

And my sons are not alone.

Times are stupid, only if you let them be stupid.

The kids are ok. But help those that are not. Don’t condescend to them. Support. Nurture. Embrace them.

The Jewish-American community is not in decline, it is simply transforming into something new and exciting, filled with independent, good hearted young people, that are making their heritage fit into an ever confusing and ever-changing world. Our “assimilated” Jewish-American young people are building a dynamic approach to their heritage. That is not only  life affirming it is also wonderful to behold.

About the Author
#RenegadeJew ...Elise's specific background deals with the practical aspects of raising special needs children. She has over 20 years experience advocating for her sons and others. Her motto: Don't put off the important things. Stand up for what you believe in. Do what is right and honest. Have patience. Have self-respect. Be kind. And above all BE BRAVE. Elise is a graduate of Boston University Law School and a Certified College Transition Coach for Persons with Asperger's Syndrome. She blogs under a pen-name to protect her sons' privacy.
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