by Mel Fisher, Rotarian and blogger as DrydenCurmudgeon. Mel's columns were published in the Dryden Observer and will now be co-posted here.
A page out of Willy Brant’s diary — Joe and I dropped off some veggies at the food co-op and were sitting in 'Timmies' when a carload of teenagers came roaring in and occupied the table next to us; I got the impression they considered that was  ‘their’ table and us old codgers were interlopers to be sitting next to it.  Well dressed, nice looking kids, all chattering at once, I didn’t pay much attention till I heard one girl announce ”Well I will never have any kids, that’s for sure!”.

Before my brain went into gear, my mouth came out with “So, if you don’t change any diapers when you are young, who will change your diaper when you are old?” Silence while seven pairs of eyes turned on me, like I was some kind of fossil or space alien or something.  One said “I don’t expect to get old”, to general nods of agreement, and another added “I don’t even want to be old “ –  I could read the “old like you” in their eyes.

We sat in silence until the crowd got up and left, then I asked Joe, “Isn’t it kind of scary how negative the young generation has become? It’s like they don’t see any future for themselves, and blame us.”

“Yes”, he said, “It’s sad actually; we have created such a mess. Too many of them are a result of an accident or a whim or trying to punish somebody, and grow up with no family life or home life.  Too many do not see an opportunity to live useful, productive lives.  I would be depressed too”

“Well, hold it”, from me. “I see lots of good kids at church.  There are still families out there!”  Joe answered that of course there are, but that’s not fashionable, and then went on with “You have heard me preach away about ‘Megatrends’, fads or fashions or more serious trends which develop then go on way past common sense all the way to ridiculous, then explode and disappear” — “Yeah, yeah”, from me, ”and the trend to prudery went all the way to putting skirts on piano’s because it was obscene for the piano to show its legs.  Heard it before.”

“OK,” he went on, “So a new trend grew out of communist thought infiltrating American universities in the 30’s, along with postwar prosperity, ‘the affluent society’, the ‘welfare state’, the whole hippies thing, free love, live in ‘communes’, and so on. They called the trend “The New Morality”

“As opposed to the ‘old morality’, I suppose”, from me. “Yes, says Joe, “And the real change is the old morality was all about improving the future by looking after the kids.  Pushing people to live in families because we know kids do best when they grow up in a family environment built around a mother and protected by a father who is confident the kid is really his.  The New Morality is all about the individual, not the family or the community, parents too stupid to listen to, much less respect.  It’s about the present, without thought for the future.  Families becoming a relic from the past, you ought to read the book ‘The War against the Family’ to get an eyeful.”

So I answer “What you are saying is that the new morality is all about selfishness, no ‘respect your elders’, no family structure, no concern for the future. No wonder kids do not see a useful life ahead for themselves”.

Joe went on as though I hadn’t interrupted him with “The trouble is that this trend has progressed like all trends do, past balance or common sense all the way over to silly. Combine it with some other trends which are reaching that silly extreme, such as over-the-top environmentalism.  Or government and big business aligned against free people ‘for their own good’.  Hard to see how all these ‘skirts-on-piano-legs trends are going to explode and disappear without some kind of crisis or war.  No wonder the kids are pessimistic.”

A few moments of morose silence while we finished our coffee, then I came up with “Well, there is a bright spot, a harbinger of change. The music the kids are listening to now sounds a lot like what we listened to in the 40’s, they have moved past lunacies like ‘rap’, the far-out extreme of the trend which started with ‘rock and roll’, back in the day.”

“I didn’t know that was happening” from Joe as we moved toward the exit, “does sound like a good omen.”

Not too often I get ahead of Joe; of course he doesn’t listen to music on the radio, too busy with his documentaries.