Not long before the mortgage meltdown, I attended a Sacramento workshop about keeping disadvantaged youth off of drugs, out of gangs, away from guns, and headed towards a healthy happy life. In the morning, we heard from a panel of the usual suspects – cops, electeds, probation, DA – about all the bad things that can happen to kids who hang out with hoods.
The workshop was very scripted, and it was not until after lunch, when most of the participants had disappeared, that I had a chance to ask my question:
Yes, I agree that guns, gangs, and selling drugs are not the path to a bright future. However, I’m also not optimistic about the standard prescription of getting a college degree and a nice job with good benefits and a nice house in the suburbs with a nice lawn, a new car, and 2.3 kids.
So, given the realities of climate change, desertification, environmental pollution everywhere, deforestation, ocean acidification, unsustainable agriculture, overfishing, unaffordable tuition, and export of jobs due to globalization, it’s hard to believe in the standard prescription for success. So what is a realistic alternative?
Most of the panel had disappeared during lunch, and those that were left looked confused, and indicated that this was not their department. The moderator wanted to give me the hook, but the handful of elderly ladies of color who remained in the audience thought this was a great question, and really wanted an answer.
Since I was not allowed to try to explain anything at that time, I went home and wrote up the explanation below, that there is indeed at least one more option, even if it’s not advertised on TV.