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The Children Will Never Sing

Back in the 1980s there was a song released talking about the children singing and a new world beginning. It was one of those big, hopeful songs about a future of love and peace and everyone listened to it. I did not like it, however. Even as a child, my cynical mind saw a pattern that has been going on for generations without changing. Unfortunately, we are all waiting for the children to sing. And it’ll never happen, because it’s impossible with the way things are today. We’ve all made sure of that.

As a child, I was often told that I couldn’t have certain things or do certain things because specific things were wrong with the world that needed to be fixed first. As if these were some reward for doing what was expected of me. I often received a virtual checklist of all the problems that I, as a child, needed to grow up to fix. It came from everywhere: parents, teachers, random adults who were keenly interested in my fixing their problems. It got to the point that I was getting depressed and even sick with worry over the massive burden that I’d been assigned. That is, until I began to wonder why these damn adults weren’t willing to do any of this work themselves.

Even today you see this mentality. Let’s take Greta Thunberg, for an example. This teenager started an environmental awareness movement that brought together kids from all over the world to fight for the cause of preventing climate change. The response? Well, there’s always the politician who basically said that the adults of today couldn’t fix the problem but the kids of today would. Um, way to miss the point of the whole movement! Why not get off your butt, use the power you have in your current position, and do something, Mr. Politician? It’s not up to the children in the future, it’s up to you. Now! That is the very thing these kids are trying to change!

This is exactly what I mean by waiting for the children to sing. We are always passing the responsibility of the world onto the next generation, all the while wrapping it in the guise of optimism for the future and hope for humanity. And this destructive pattern of generation relay has been going on for a long time now. My parents’ generation were supposed to be the ones to change the world. They never did. Instead they looked to my generation and my sister’s generation to do the job for them. When I was a teenager it was suddenly the Millennials’ job to change the world. Now the Millennials are already passing the buck onto Gen Z. How long before Gen Z starts doing it to the infants of today? It’s coming. You know it is!

There are so many issues out there that would be fixed by now if we’d simply stand up and do the job ourselves rather than waiting for some younger set to come up with the solution. Climate change is the example I used above, but there are so many other issues as well. We just had another school targeted and nineteen children shot simply because we cannot come up with a solution to the shooting problem in the first place. What exactly are we waiting for this time? Whose job is it supposed to be to stop this issue? It’s kind of hard for the children to sing when they’re dead, isn’t it? Yet we still wait for that performance that’s never coming.

So why do we have this collective bad habit of generation responsibility passing? It’s a simple reason, really, and one that we should fix now. None of us look at the world as ours. It’s always the children’s world and we’re just living in it. At the same time, though, the children are said to be “too young” to be a part of it yet, but by the time they are adults they are told that they no longer matter. Thus we are stuck in the midst of this “too young” or “too old” mentality. So what is the right age? There is none. No one has the power and no one has the responsibility. It’s almost as if it were designed to be that way.

Let’s just stop now. Stop making this all about the children. It’s true that this is their world, but it’s also your world. The world belongs to you, the children, your elderly neighbor down the street, the teenager who delivers your food, and that random middle-aged father down at the park. Everyone who is currently alive today has a stake in this business. If you are conscious and breathing, this is your world and you are responsible for making it a better place! No more excuses! No more buck passing!

This chorus that the song hoped for was never intended to be a solo outing, and it’s not as impossible as I used to think. The children are only a small part of the whole choir, though. Yes, we need our sopranos, but we also need the tenors and altos and basses, and every position in between. Otherwise the song is an incomplete mess. The world won’t change when the children sing, or, should I say, if they sing. It changes when we all sing. Don’t you think it’s about time to stop talking about the music and actually start this choir?

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