when it comes to kids society gets it wrong

‘A working class hero is something to be.” In June 1970, two monumental critiques of contemporary culture hit the marketplace.

‘A working class hero is something to be.” In June 1970, two monumental critiques of contemporary culture hit the marketplace. Both explored identical themes: the ongoing alienation and class struggle of young adults growing up in the post-industrial world.

Little has changed since that time. More than likely, the situation has deteriorated further.

John Lennon’s Working Class Hero — the cover song in his first post-Beatles solo album and his first collaboration with Yoko Ono — delivered a pounding, sparse and targeted message: we are destroying the souls of our young people.

 Charles Reich’s book The Greening of America put teeth in Lennon’s message. Reich outlined these issues in grave detail:

Disorder, corruption, hypocrisy, war.

Poverty, distorted priorities, and lawmaking by private power.

Uncontrolled technology and the destruction of environment.

Decline of democracy and liberty and powerlessness.

The artificiality of work and culture.

Absence of community.

Loss of self.

Today as I think about Lennon and Reich on my morning drive to town, I catch a CBC segment on today’s alienated youth.

A preppy school trustee applauds the latest bit of uncontrolled technology aimed at solving what she calls, “the destructive idleness” of kids hanging out at Canadian schools: the mosquito.

Her school had been repeatedly vandalized by gangs of teenagers gathering after school. The mosquito, a technological ultrahigh-frequency device first designed to break down war criminals, emits an ear piercing sound that only young ears can pick up.

The sound is so deafening the kids quickly move away from the buildings.

I am appalled at this woman’s feeble defense for risking the health of a child’s hearing as an acceptable solution to their loss of self.

I pull over to the side of the road and walk down to a narrow canal along the Columbia River. It is quiet here except for a few songbirds and the gentle sound of moving water. In utter disbelief I mumble, “the mosquito, how (******) crazy.”

What, I ask myself, are we doing to our young people?

Reich believed the solution to the crisis of class struggle, separation and loss of self, hinged on the creation of a “new consciousness,” one that begins by first learning how to live in a new way.

Such a consciousness, “tells us how to make technology and science work for, and not against, the interests of men and women. The new way of life proposes a concept of work in which “quality, dedication, and excellence are preserved.”

Reich sought to build a culture that is non-artificial and non-alienated, a form of community in which love, respect and a mutual search for wisdom replace the competition and separation of the past.

Lennon and Reich were striving to help create a reality, according to Reich, that offers us “the best hope of a life that is both satisfying and beautiful.”

When I read Reich’s work and when I listen to Lennon I cannot help but think how far off-base the school trustee is in her attempt to deal with our alienated children like they were war criminals. But this is where we are today. This is life for children in the 21st century.

Both Reich and Lennon warned us of the consequences of dealing with insane problems by imposing insane solutions; of dealing with conflict by going to war, of dealing with universal poverty by wrapping the few in the gaudiness of wealth.

If there is hope, and I think there is, it just may come from the music our young people are plugged into.

Writer and social critic John O’Donohue spells out the significance of music in his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. In so doing he explains the simple power of a John Lennon.

“Faced with the strangeness and silence of the earth, one of the most beautiful human creations has been music. The creation of exquisite music is one of the glories of the human imagination. Indeed, if we had done little else, music would remain our incredible gift to creation for there is no other sound on earth to compare with the beauty and depth of music.”

Sing it, John, the kids are listening and they hear your message.

“If you want to be a hero, well just follow me…”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

A Housing First building on Fifth Avenue and Wood Street will be taken over by the Council of Yukon First Nations and John Howard Society later this month. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CYFN, John Howard Society take over downtown Housing First residence

The organizations have pledged culturally appropriate service for its many Indigenous residents

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. Politicians return for the spring sitting of the assembly March 4. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Analysis: What to expect in spring sitting of the legislature

They’re back on March 4, but election speculation is looming large

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read