When I pictured myself at this old age of 46, there was a two-word term I never thought would still be in my vocabulary — “six-pack abs.” No, wait, that’s not it. Although, that two-word term definitely is not in play these days.
Oh yeah, the two-word term I was thinking of was “spring break.” When I was a child, spring break meant I got a week off from working on my multiplication tables or cursive. And when I was a teenager, “spring break” was synonymous with a week of debauchery in places like Panama City, Daytona Beach or, for us poorer folks, the sand bar on the Flint River.
Yet, I spent a good deal of last week spring-breaking with eight college kids from Ohio. They didn’t pick me up in their van on the way to the beach. They were spending their spring break repairing homes, and my wife and I were among the hosts.
We shared dinner with them four times during the week, and I spent several hours on the job sites with them. Preparing for the feeding and housing and work days of eight college students can be a little daunting. By the end of the week, however, there was a prevailing feeling that I, my wife and a few others shared:
Never miss a local story.
If you watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity every day, you might believe that all college students do is sit in the corners of politically correct safe rooms and talk about how much the real world hurts their feelings. Yes, somewhere, there’s a handful of students more interested in left-wing politics than in being self-reliant agents of positive change in the world. But the “snowflake” stereotype is more rare among college students than propagandists would have you believe.
Snowflakes don’t skip the beach to climb ladders to work all day scraping off old shingles from roofs and laying down new ones in the abnormally warm early March Georgia sunshine. Snowflakes don’t work alongside conservatives and liberals alike to make sure that a little old lady can keep living in the only home she has ever known. Snowflakes don’t put all of their personal interests aside for the benefit of others.
As fond as we’ve grown of this group of eight kids we now consider extended family, they are not an anomaly or exceptionally unique. Across this already great nation are young folks their age who go on “alternative spring breaks” to serve others. There are thousands upon thousands of these kids committed to extending a helping hand to people in need.
As I grow older and wonder if current leaders will be able to save Medicare, Social Security or the planet itself, I have faith that the next generation will learn from the mistakes of today’s bickering adults and make their communities, their country and the world a better place.
Unlike too many folks my age and older, these kids will find that balance between personal ambition and selfless service. They will not be driven by lust for power and avarice; they will strive to take this mess they are inheriting and transform it into something worth passing on to the next generation. And if that makes these college kids snowflakes, then I’ve got just one thing to say:
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
“The Best of Chris Johnson, Volume II” is now available at KudzuKid.com.