We have all seen images like this in years past and they all look like happy images of yesteryear when people really clung together to make for a happy future. Now days we are all a bunch of self absorbed schleps, especially the youth. Hedonistic and unconcerned with anything other than their i-pods. Living in MySpace worlds that do not exist, and not having an opinion on anything but the latest band.
At least this is the conventional wisdom, or at least the way we are told to look at things. Well let me tell you about what I saw two weeks ago. I had to pick my daughter up from High School. She was in the gym, waiting in line. The bell had rang and they had no reason that they had to stay. They could have gone home, or to the coffee shop, or went out back to get high. Or just hung out with their friends on MySpace. But no, these lazy self absorbed kids had other ideas.
In front of them were rows of cots filled with other students giving blood. Willingly, without coercion, without payment, laying down and getting stuck with a big needle and literally giving their lives blood to total strangers, getting nothing in return but a sore arm, dizziness, and a day glow bandage. Many students I saw almost pass out. Still they went on to do their part in making the lives of total strangers better. They also joked around, chatted, laughed and carried on like all youth. None of them acted like what they were doing was anything special. In other words they acted like hero's, real hero's. The kind that are too busy with life to know how special they are.
Much of their blood will course into the veins of cancer patients. Some of whom will get a new chance to live because of these kids. Some of whom will get to live a bit longer so they have a decent chance to at least say goodbye. Some of this blood will help accident victims survive their trauma, some of this blood may save your life, or mine. None of it will be wasted.
To look out into the gym and see all these kids doing this is to make me feel pretty good about our future. So when people try to tell you how the young don't care, or are only interested in themselves remember that statement is usually a convenient, media generated, stereotype meant to make us older folks feel better about ourselves while looking down our noses at those kids, those little hero's, who will be, and in fact already are, saving lives.