Some of you may know that I volunteer at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. I do it for a several reasons. It gives me a commitment that I have to meet weekly, it’s a beautiful early morning drive where I sometimes get lucky and see coyotes and other desert creatures. I get to play with and learn about stingrays, turtles, chuckwallas and snakes. The best part is I get to meet some fun, bright and delightful young people. Young people that give me hope for the future.
This morning I met a five year old girl with the prettiest green eyes I’ve ever seen. She was wearing a bright red baseball cap with a big white N on it. I asked her grandfather if it was a Nebraska hat. “Nope.” He said. “It’s a Nova hat.” I thought it meant some group, toy or something I’d not heard of, so I let it go. The little girl walked up to the stingray tank and was ready to touch them and feed them. No hesitation. I’ve seen grown men hesitant to touch the rays, not this little girl. As I was showing her how to feed them, I asked where she had gotten her beautiful green eyes. Her answer was perfect. “I got them when I was born!” Her answer emphatic and to the point. A few minutes later her grandfather and I were speaking and we saw a squirrel feeding on the beans of a Palo Verde tree. He turned and called to his granddaughter. “Nova, come here and look at this squirrel.” The white N on her hat stood for her name – Nova. This little girl was bright, polite, beautiful and daring, her name fits her perfectly. She will do fine for this world.
A few weeks back another volunteer moved away from Tucson. Lorenzo had just graduated from the University of Arizona. He headed back to his home state to start a job in community development. Before starting work he was first attending training at Georgetown University and Harvard University. There is no question that Lorenzo is bright; I’d match his intellect with anyone’s. More than being bright, he is one of the most polite, engaging, interesting and caring young men I have ever met. It took me two months to get him to stop calling me “Sir.” I have no doubt he will do great things in the future.
My two grandchildren are no less special then Nova and Lorenzo. My granddaughter once said when I asked her, “What makes you happy?, with a big beautiful smile , “Everything makes me happy.” And indeed, it seems that’s true. Her teacher, with tears in her eyes, once told my son at a parent-teacher conference, “Your daughter is the sweetest child I’ve ever met.” She is sweet, but she’s also humble, curious and smart.
My grandson wears a man bun in an Idaho town that is as white bread as they come. He seems to have never considered that someone might question the look. He is as smart as a kid can get, and wants to go to Ireland and draw caricatures. He wants to be who he is, and has no desire for fame or fortune. (Fame and riches are the two most common goals of teenagers, as noted in a research study.) He loves his sister with all his heart, he’s compassionate, and polite. Good traits for a teenage boy. And yes, he’s a damned good artist.
Those of us who have far more years behind us than in front of us, have in many ways left a tough future for the next generations. Climate change, skyrocketing education costs, great political division and so much more. We’ve not done our job in protecting the future for our children and grandchildren. But I have hope. I have hope that Nova, Lorenzo, Lauren and Holden will make this world a better, a kinder, a cleaner and more compassionate place to live.
“Children are the worlds most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” John F. Kennedy
“Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.” Nelson Mandela
Go Well – David