SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 313: “Wear Sunblock”

“We do everything together.” Say’s boyfriend / girlfriend engineering students William and Jessie.

Here I go again with my soapbox for the youth of today. “The future is in good hands.”

A claim I can comfortably make after meeting so many sharp young adults.

“Never stop questioning,” Jessie challenges in crediting Albert Einstein.

And questioning is what this new generation is doing. In them, the right queries are being made. From politics to environment to humanity and the responsible use of new technology, all are the concerns of the majority of the eighteen to twenty-two year olders I have interviewed.

Sure, they use word like fun and me. Yet, through it I see a grand shift in their awareness and maturity in comparison to that of decades past. Yea, I know, what about the enlightened sixties, the if it feels good, do it seventies, the what are we going to do about it nineties and so forth. All eras that produced many a good mind, but the grand total of which has also equally contributed to a planet of division and conflict.

Yes, I stand strong in my conviction, that never have we had a generation of future leaders the likes of those walking the earth these days. Perhaps it the ease of virtual communication…possibly… but I hope not. Maybe it is the bombardment of negative and sensationalized media… a sad fact. Or, hopefully the growth of desire to get along… regardless of race, religion or creed is what is inspiring our youth. But whatever it is… It is tangible, real and activated.

Jessie talks with a lighthearted confidence as she passes on a second quote, one that in her radiance telegraphs her owning its said reference. Per Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

William chimes in, “We have to keep going… no matter what happens.”

We talk of the status of today’s society: The positives, the negatives and the influences that attack us every day by the hidden agendas of so many. We debate the way media has influenced us in referencing the number of so-called reality based programs. I call it the “Numbing of Society.”

Jessie concurs in using a theatrical reference in supporting the argument. “’I hope we don’t end up like the movie ‘Idiocracy…’ Where there is no room for smart people.’”

Smart People… that alone conjures up thoughts of diplomas and egos. However, I ask us to ponder the meaning of true intelligence as it relates to the world around us. For I have seen many a scholar fall or visible persona falter in the eyes of their beholders.

In my opinion, real intelligence is not gained though academic accolades or via professional back pats. It is hard-earned, webbed with understanding, compassion and optimism. It works in silent and effectual ways, and cannot be measured by metric values. In its purest form, it is quite and long-suffering, able to lose any bands of boastfulness and want of ego driven gain.

Many talk of brilliance and genius. Both attribute to be admired and celebrated. But what of the quite ones, those of us I call “The Silent Majority.” For it is in them that the real lessons of life are to be gained. Their wisdom is well formatted and is a result of many a heart earned experience. It is this definition that is the true definer of intelligence, and applied well it can teach us all lessons that cannot be found in any form of institutionalized learning.

Therefore, may I suggest that true intelligence is the result of applied observation: Meaning the more we accept and know ourselves, and apply the laws of understanding in getting to know our neighbors… adding that to the courage to openly look, honestly listen and fearlessly feel, the greatest lessons are learned. A self-curriculum of sorts, one that if enrolled, allows us to navigate our existences with our eyes wide open, free of the confines of technology and from the influence of media.

Jessie talks of her learning style, “I go to the library and study where people are. I use the textbooks and realize what is really out there. I don’t want to live in this virtual world.”

William, “’I don’t want to see the world keep going the way it is. The way I see it, also another movie reference… the movie ‘Surrogates.’ Where the whole world is just playing fake… there is no real anymore…

… I really want to see the world go more real. Get more real in the fact that we can express ourselves more. That we will want to be ourselves instead of what we see on TV or something.

That’s how I see the world going right now… They are living the way TV or what they see in movies, or in the shows and stuff like that tells them to live. I think people need to get out of that.

That’s why I think the world should steer more towards themselves, and away from the media… to be more real… and to be themselves.’”

Jessie “We need to go outside more. I heard that two percent of the land is occupied by people. Ninety-eight present is not. There is so much more out there…! I don’t get it!”

I did a little research on her statistics.

According to award-winning geographer Matt Rosenberg:

90% of the earth’s population occupies 3% of the land. Land covers 29% of the globe.

.03 x .29 = .0087 = .87% Let’s call it 1%. Therefore, if Mr. Rosenberg is correct with his data, it’s very safe to say that less than %2 of the Earth’s surface is inhabited by humans.

Back to Jessie, “Why live with all these freeways and traffic. Go hike somewhere… Go look at something… It amazes me that people won’t do it. Some people even consider Google street view now as traveling. That’s just wrong!”

I ask my final question, “What about the world ahead?”

Jessie, “’I don’t even know… I like trying to stay kind of present. I remember as a third grader. I always lived for how it was going to be in the future. And then I realized that was not fun. I did not do anything. I was just preparing myself for later on. So you have to live for now… and do what you can do now for how you see the world becoming.

I don’t have a hundred year plan… I’d just like to see No ‘WALL-E…’ No ‘Idiocracy.’

With the charm and humor of a boyfriend smitten William share a subtle symbolism, “Wear Sunblock.”

We’ll leave it to you to reflect upon the deeper meaning of Williams closing statement, but here is a hint, “Are you prepared?”

When I started 365, I never realized it would get so deep. But you know what…? the lessons have been worth it.

Jessie, William… Great to be in class with you today… Good luck in your schooling.