By Kenneth Justice
~“Kenneth, I’m overwhelmed from my student loans. At the rate I’m currently able to make payments; its gonna take me 40 years to pay it all back!” she said
This past week Ukraine has been front and central in the eye of the world. NEWS sources have been flooding our televisions and tablets with images of the picturesque city of Kiev on fire; gunfire, protests, and unrest of all sorts is flooding the streets if Kiev with no end in sight.
I simply don’t have enough intimate knowledge in the Ukrainian political and economic situation to speculate publicly on the course of action that President Vickto Yanukovych should take, or to what degree the President is to blame for what is going on.
Yet as I sat there last night listening to ABC NEWS report on the unrest in the Ukraine, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the countless hundreds of young people that I’ve talked with here in the United States who are struggling with their own version of unrest.
Over the years, the most common conversation topic that young people would bring up to me at coffee shops was their feeling of frustration with religion (and specifically with Christianity). Many young adults in the United States grow up in Christian homes and as they mature toward adulthood they find themselves faced with very real difficulties regarding their belief systems,
—) Many children grow up in Christian homes with parents who are alcoholics or abusive
—) Many children grow up in Church communities that focus more on rules than relationships
—) Many children grow up in Christian communities that are more concerned with image than reaching out and helping the people who are truly in need
—) Many children simply grow bored of church and church life
There are a myriad of reasons young adults get ‘burned out’ by religion…and for the past two decades of my life this was the issue that men and women I would meet with at coffee would want to discuss with me the most……..but not anymore.
Sure, I still get a lot of people that want to talk about their struggles with Western Christianity….but over the past few years the number one topic that young adults want to discuss with me is their frustration over college and career.
I’ve literally sat with thousands of young adults who are college graduates yet can’t get a decent enough job that they can justify working at; it’s not that they aren’t able to find low-paying minimum wage jobs…..it’s that they can’t find jobs which justify all of the effort and cost they put into their college degree.
—-) When you owe the University of Michigan $90,000 for the bachelor degree in health services you just graduated with, it’s hard to justify working as a nurses aid for $10.50 per hour
—-) When you owe Hillsdale College $68,000 for your bachelor degree in teaching, it’s hard to justify working as an entry-level high school teacher for $21,000 per year which is barely enough to pay your bills…..let alone pay off your student loans
—-) When you owe the University of Florida $88,000 for your degree in accounting, it’s hard to justify working as an accounting assistant at only $11.00 per hour.
Don’t get me wrong, college can be great; it can be a wonderful experience and a time of great personal growth……but for many people college merely becomes a four year period in which they graduate facing a mountain of debt that seems impossible to ever climb.
According to the New York Daily News, “Today’s students graduate from college with heavy debts, and many aren’t reaping the benefits of that education — a poll shows recent grads often find jobs that don’t require a college degree. More than 40% are unemployed, and 16% are in part-time positions” —–that means half of all students who go to college will NOT be employed in a job upon graduation.
Who do we hold responsible? It’s a tough question to answer. Many college graduates DO find jobs; many women and men become teachers, nurses, accountants, and lawyers…..and because they found a job many of them think the problem is a lack of imitative on the college graduates who are still unemployed.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is a clear-cut answer to the problem. Because a lot of the college graduates whom I talk with that are employed….are actually underemployed; they either work in positions where a degree isn’t even needed, or their rate of pay simply doesn’t justify the amount of money they spent (and owe on their college degree).
So why is this issue important? Do we really need to keep thinking about it and talking about it? I believe the answer is staring at us in our face; for too long those of us who live in the United States have bought into the lie that “bad things happen to other people and other countries…but not to us”.
—) We Americans believe all sorts of lies such as, “war is what goes on in the Middle East…not here in the U.S.”……..yet have we forgotten 9/11? Have we forgotten the Boston Bombing last year?
—) We Americans believe lies such as, “protests and rebellion is what happens in places like Greece and the Ukraine…it can’t happen here”. Yet have we forgotten the very war against England which we started over taxation without representation? Have we forgotten the bloody Civil War of the 1800’s? Have we forgotten the 1960’s and the college protest movement that struck across universities all over the United States?
I fear that if we here in the U.S. simply keep closing our eyes to the problems that plague our economy….and more specifically; that frustrations that young adults face all across our country than we are merely setting ourselves up for a coming economic disaster of epic proportions…..
But then again….perhaps I am worrying about nothing. Maybe I need to close my eyes, take another cup of coffee, and forgot about all of this……
If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a tour of 100 coffee houses meeting with readers and bloggers. Check my homepage for dates and locations; I’d love to have coffee with you!
Categories: Culture & Society