To Find Somethingto Do

Posted: March 17, 2010 in Personal Growth

I read an account of a young woman being convicted for participating in a murder and facing up to 18 years in prison. The excellent article in the Seattle Times tells about the small community’s efforts to create something for young people to do as they complain that there is noting to do. I have often heard that complaint over the years, starting when I was a teenager.

Actually, I remember being bored. A young woman I met told me she never felt bored. I’ve often thought about that and wished I could have had her tell me more about herself. I won’t be able to because she has long since died. I can believe she was responding to my complaint about being bored, because I can remember being that way. I have often said that I told my daughters that boredom is a frame of mind; implying that it has nothing to do with any outside circumstances. I still feel that it is up to the bored to decide to do something. Others can only suggest activities to fill the void. The scene in West Side Story that has the gang members meeting on neutral turf in a dance hall for a dance presumably thrown by some community members to foster good will between the opposing gang members. That it was only partially successful probably is accurate. I doubt if there are accurate accountings of how successful youth activities really are. There is probably evidence and I don’t think anyone is questioning their efficacy unless there is public money involved.

So how does one create a busy climate which precludes young people getting into trouble[1]? I can’t help but believe in the old saw, “attitudes are caught not taught”. A robust demeanor and excited approach does tend to captivate people’s attention. But, as Dale Carnegie[2] would say your best efforts won’t have universal results.

My theory is if young people develop a love of learning (reading, etc.) they are less likely to get into trouble. It’s not a sure prescription for delinquency; but it would seem to have some effect. There are criminals who are learned, for sure. I used to fend off criticism of Rock and Roll from upper classmen in high school by pointing out that some of the most notorious gangsters love classical music. Were they learned? Maybe not; but they at least had an interest in what we have come to believe is uplifting interests.

But, what do I know? The more I reflect on the complexities of human behavior I am less sure there is a sure answer for what ales young people that causes them to go astray. We can only try to provide incentives and hope most of our wards reciprocate.


[1] Isn’t getting into trouble simply people thinking creatively and breaking the rules? In a book “Thinking Like Einstein” the author says you have to break the rules to think creatively. It’s called thinking outside the box; and how far are we from acting on the thoughts outside the box?

[2] Refer to “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

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