Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trick or Treat: A Conversation with a Young Man

 

I happened to fall into conversation with a young veterans’ organization member, who turned out to also be eligible for the veteran’s organization to which I belong, due to service in Korea. My outfit needs more fresh blood, so I had an ulterior motive to sit and listen, just prompting him for more of his thoughts. It was a treat to hear a well-spoken young man’s perspective on his own life, work, and service. The trick, really the pleasant surprise, was to then find an amazing breadth and depth to this fellow veteran, who I took from the conversation to be in his mid-20s.

That places him on the cusp between Millennials and Gen-Z. Folks, he was none of the negative stereotypes routinely riffed about his age cohort. He started on active duty, then (fairly recently) transitioned to a reserve component. He was highly focused on leveraging the mutually reinforcing training, certifications, and experience of his civilian and military careers. He had mapped out paths of advancement in both, taking advantage of the commonality in the two technical occupations. Oh, and he had not even needed college to get on this path, but already had thought through the evening/weekend/online schooling that would punch his ticket to the top of his chosen field in both the military and civilian life.

He had already been to the Middle East and Asia, so was looking for opportunities to see Europe and especially Africa in Uncle Sam’s service. And then it got interesting. We really do not understand the Middle East because we have forsaken much of our own intellectual and spiritual inheritance, he observed. We have the Arab world largely on our side or under our control, yet we cannot see the lines everyone there sees, of the Ottoman and Persian empires, let alone the one that once was centered in present-day Iraq. Turkey and Syria are two fixed countries in our eyes, yet Turks have a memory of empire that included Syria and more.

He showed great wisdom and maturity in not voicing full or unrestrained opinion, at least to a stranger, even in a friendly setting. Yet, he had dropped a mention of church, so when I asked an opening question, he showed a few cards. He is Roman Catholic and worried about the direction of the church and of society. Here he was carefully circumspect.

I offered that perhaps it would have been better for this time if an African had been selected as the Pope instead of an Argentine. “Yes,” he answered. The current pope was shaped by the Jesuits, and the Jesuits were at the center of the current situation. [He employed very careful language at this point.]

There is a common misconception, he averred, that the Holy Spirit selects the Pope. It is rather the case that the Spirit transfers authority from one to another, but the church has gone through schisms before when the wrong man was chosen. The laity’s prayers help guide the church, he continued, but when the laity is confused or astray, the “lens” of prayer becomes “smudged,” leading to blurry guidance in church leadership.

But, he was not passively resigned or fatalistic. Instead, he was determined to act where he could and had hope. Britain, he volunteered, had fallen more than once. When the Saxons invaded, it was left to a faithful remnant in Ireland to spread the true faith again. So, now, with Europe and America, a spiritual child of Europe, dying, it was likely the turn of the church in Africa to be the source of revival.

All that, from a clean-cut, fit young man on the rise in the rising generation. With a few more men like this, the kids will be alright, and the trick will be on the Trickster.

Published in Group Writing
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There are 16 comments.

  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Well, I have not yet rolled out bears or outhouses as part of October’s theme: “Trick or Treat!

    Do your part to keep it that way! Treat yourself and your friends to a post, nothing tricky about it. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits. There might be candy.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

     

    • #1
    • October 16, 2019, at 12:47 AM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown: With a few more men like this, the kids will be alright, and the trick will be on the Trickster.

    The Baby Boomers had plenty of young men like that at one time.

    • #2
    • October 16, 2019, at 2:23 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Blondie Thatcher

    There is hope. We get so caught up in the uninformed children the TV trots out (better ratings) that we never hear from the young folks like this one. We had a surprise visit from a former neighbor last week. She is a senior in high school but has a better command of life than the dolts in college you see on TV. There is hope. 

    • #3
    • October 16, 2019, at 4:46 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Universities cause brain damage.

    • #4
    • October 16, 2019, at 5:00 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Henry Castaigne Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Universities cause brain damage.

    It’s actually much worse than that. They spew out brain leprosy that can contaminate other brains and generally weakens the immune system of the body politic. 

    • #5
    • October 16, 2019, at 6:26 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Juliana Member

    This sounds like a very interesting and eye-opening conversation. Those are always the best kind. I hesitate to paint any group with a broad brush, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of men and women who have military experience gain a much different perspective on the world – one from which those of us without that experience can only benefit.

    My grandson cannot decide if he wants to be a priest or Rambo. (Yeah. He’s 15.) When I told him he could be a chaplain in the armed forces, you could pretty much see every neuron in his adolescent brain lighting up.

    I would like to see more kids with some sort of dream for their future (not – I want to be a video gamer)…and a way for the education system to help them plan for it, and recognize the work it will take to make it happen. (I am not discounting the need for parents and family to be the prime movers.) Right now, after finding out quickly that everyone is not suited for college, the high schools are beginning to acknowledge that there are other paths to mature adult success without a four year college degree by the time you are 22. But that is out of the box thinking for a system loaded with college degree holders and they are not very good at it.

    • #6
    • October 16, 2019, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. Blondie Thatcher

    @juliana, I love your comment. The idea of not going to college didn’t used to be an “out of the box” idea. It was the norm. The girl I referenced in my comment earlier agrees. She’s trying to convince her classmates not to incur the debt of college. She’s getting pushback from her counselors and teachers. 

    • #7
    • October 16, 2019, at 7:40 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  8. The Reticulator Member

    Juliana (View Comment):
    the high schools are beginning to acknowledge that there are other paths to mature adult success without a four year college degree by the time you are 22.

    High schools have always made that point, especially when they are asking for more money to create very specialized programs for those who are college bound. Yes, two sides of the mouth. They also say they need more money to create narrowly specialized programs geared towards current employment needs, because nowadays people don’t stay in the same career, much less the same job, for their entire life.

    Public high schools acknowledge all sorts of things. What they don’t do is make sense.

    • #8
    • October 16, 2019, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  9. Richard Finlay Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: With a few more men like this, the kids will be alright, and the trick will be on the Trickster.

    The Baby Boomers had plenty of young men like that at one time.

    And then we got old.

    • #9
    • October 16, 2019, at 10:07 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Juliana (View Comment):

    This sounds like a very interesting and eye-opening conversation. Those are always the best kind. I hesitate to paint any group with a broad brush, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of men and women who have military experience gain a much different perspective on the world – one from which those of us without that experience can only benefit.

    My grandson cannot decide if he wants to be a priest or Rambo. (Yeah. He’s 15.) When I told him he could be a chaplain in the armed forces, you could pretty much see every neuron in his adolescent brain lighting up.

    I would like to see more kids with some sort of dream for their future (not – I want to be a video gamer)…and a way for the education system to help them plan for it, and recognize the work it will take to make it happen. (I am not discounting the need for parents and family to be the prime movers.) Right now, after finding out quickly that everyone is not suited for college, the high schools are beginning to acknowledge that there are other paths to mature adult success without a four year college degree by the time you are 22. But that is out of the box thinking for a system loaded with college degree holders and they are not very good at it.

    I can’t imagine anyone better equipped to explain to high schoolers that going into debt for a low-paying degree is a sucker’s game than a public school teacher. 

    • #10
    • October 16, 2019, at 10:23 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Juliana Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    I can’t imagine anyone better equipped to explain to high schoolers that going into debt for a low-paying degree is a sucker’s game than a public school teacher.

    In my district, according to a union rep, 50% of the teachers are at the top of the pay scale (15 years, masters + 60 credits, is the top step). The annual salary for that step is just over $90,000 for 185 days a year (169 student contact days). If you can stick it out, and add a college class or two every year it is not necessarily low paying. I know that it is very different in other parts of the country (sometimes reduced by half). It’s not much when you start (starting pay here is $39,000 – no experience, bachelor’s degree), but it adds up because you move up the salary schedule every year, guaranteed. There are a lot of ways to add to that salary as well – teaching summer school or coaching, or getting a yearly stipend for national board certification, merit pay bonus, or a PhD. If you get your administrative degree, you are looking at $100,000 plus to be a principal, dean, or assistant principal.

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s tough to be a new teacher. There is a lot of work that is not done ‘at the office.’ But if you are teaching the same course or grade, lessons are repeated sometimes, unfortunately, without change for years. The teachers who want to challenge themselves will, others will not. And classroom management has become increasingly difficult over the past 5 to 10 years. I would not recommend it.

     

    • #11
    • October 16, 2019, at 12:07 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Blondie (View Comment):

    @juliana, I love your comment. The idea of not going to college didn’t used to be an “out of the box” idea. It was the norm. The girl I referenced in my comment earlier agrees. She’s trying to convince her classmates not to incur the debt of college. She’s getting pushback from her counselors and teachers.

    There has been talk for years about employers shifting from diplomas to certifications of specific sets of tested skills. The fellow I spoke with was completing a certification to put himself in position to make a $5000 jump in salary (as a base in the new category of employee to which he aspires)…instead of only $1000-$2000 in the next salary negotiation. Mind you, it would be demonstrated expertise plus formal imprimatur of a recognized certification system.

    • #12
    • October 16, 2019, at 3:12 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Juliana (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    I can’t imagine anyone better equipped to explain to high schoolers that going into debt for a low-paying degree is a sucker’s game than a public school teacher.

    In my district, according to a union rep, 50% of the teachers are at the top of the pay scale (15 years, masters + 60 credits, is the top step). The annual salary for that step is just over $90,000 for 185 days a year (169 student contact days). If you can stick it out, and add a college class or two every year it is not necessarily low paying. I know that it is very different in other parts of the country (sometimes reduced by half). It’s not much when you start (starting pay here is $39,000 – no experience, bachelor’s degree), but it adds up because you move up the salary schedule every year, guaranteed. There are a lot of ways to add to that salary as well – teaching summer school or coaching, or getting a yearly stipend for national board certification, merit pay bonus, or a PhD. If you get your administrative degree, you are looking at $100,000 plus to be a principal, dean, or assistant principal.

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s tough to be a new teacher. There is a lot of work that is not done ‘at the office.’ But if you are teaching the same course or grade, lessons are repeated sometimes, unfortunately, without change for years. The teachers who want to challenge themselves will, others will not. And classroom management has become increasingly difficult over the past 5 to 10 years. I would not recommend it.

    Sounds almost military in its early washout/pay-by-rank qualities. 

    My good friend was a prof and did construction during the summer break. 

    • #13
    • October 16, 2019, at 3:25 PM PST
    • Like
  14. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):

    @juliana, I love your comment. The idea of not going to college didn’t used to be an “out of the box” idea. It was the norm. The girl I referenced in my comment earlier agrees. She’s trying to convince her classmates not to incur the debt of college. She’s getting pushback from her counselors and teachers.

    There has been talk for years about employers shifting from diplomas to certifications of specific sets of tested skills. The fellow I spoke with was completing a certification to put himself in position to make a $5000 jump in salary (as a base in the new category of employee to which he aspires)…instead of only $1000-$2000 in the next salary negotiation. Mind you, it would be demonstrated expertise plus formal imprimatur of a recognized certification system.

    I’d like to see a lot more of that. And I’d like to see close to zero graduates of grade levels who can’t operate at said grade levels. 

    • #14
    • October 16, 2019, at 3:27 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. The Reticulator Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    There has been talk for years about employers shifting from diplomas to certifications of specific sets of tested skills. The fellow I spoke with was completing a certification to put himself in position to make a $5000 jump in salary (as a base in the new category of employee to which he aspires)…instead of only $1000-$2000 in the next salary negotiation. Mind you, it would be demonstrated expertise plus formal imprimatur of a recognized certification system.

    It could be a good idea, but some of the systems of certification in the IT world are a racket. (Or were a racket. I am not up-to-date on this.) A system of independent certifiers might be different from the Microsoft and Cisco certification systems, but we can be sure that those that do the certifying will look out for their own interests as a group. 

    • #15
    • October 16, 2019, at 3:31 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Arahant Member

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: With a few more men like this, the kids will be alright, and the trick will be on the Trickster.

    The Baby Boomers had plenty of young men like that at one time.

    And then we got old.

    And the whole world with us.

    • #16
    • October 16, 2019, at 6:08 PM PST
    • 3 likes