OPINION: What will children value in the future?



For some reason, I started thinking about the future of humanity after reading the lede of Lauren Takores’ Record-Journal story the other day.

In case you’re unfamiliar, a lede, as Merriam-Webster puts it, is “the introductory section of a news story that is intended to entice the reader to read the full story.”

This seemed to fit: “Retro clothing is among the unique items at The Mason Jar, a vintage shop inside a 100-year-old former chicken coop.”

The Mason Jar, which is in Wallingford, is named after the owner’s four-year-old grandson. The chicken coop, or what’s there now instead of it, is behind Vinny’s Deli.

“I seem to be the only one in my family that has this sort of vintage bug,” owner Jenn Clapp observed.

You can’t just show up at The Mason Jar. I mean, I suppose you could, but it’s better to get in touch with Clapp by phone or via Instagram.

That’s because she has another job. Clapp is a respiratory therapist at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Waterbury.

In other words, she’s a hero.

Clapp has worked with many suffering from COVID-19, “struggling with and dying from the disease,” as the R-J story put it. That is about as serious as it gets.

I don’t collect vintage anything, but by dint of having been around for a while I have accumulated a thing or two. Those include a Smith Corona manual typewriter from the 1970s. I like having it around, probably because it’s a reminder of how you once could bang out words and get a tactile and noisy accompaniment to your writing.

There has been some unease over how young people do not appear to have the same regard for the value of the tangible things of the world, a stark contrast to the attitude of those who’d grown up during the Great Depression.

In 2019, when Cheshire’s last independent furniture store was shutting down, Furniture Barn owner Fred Reich said, “there isn’t a market for this type of business anymore.” A customer noted that young people are “not interested in things that last, and this is where you get things that last.”

Yet nostalgia works for everyone, just perhaps in different ways. There’s esteem for VHS movies, for example, or for vintage video games.

The question is, what will children today hold dear when the time comes for them to inherit the world?

For those who grew up during the Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a collective experience and memory. For baby boomers, it’s the Kennedy assassination. Years ago, when I was interviewing people who had served or were serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, it became clear the extent to which the terrorist attacks of 9/11, something they’d experienced in childhood, had served as a motivating factor.

It’s worth it now to consider the experience of the coronavirus pandemic, not a single moment of trauma but an extended global crisis, something we’ve all experienced for more than a year and a half and are still experiencing.

How will this experience shape the future world for the children of today? What will they value? When you look at it that way, masks, vaccinations, individual liberty and the question of in-person versus remote learning take on added dimensions. So do local elections, as we choose leaders, including those in education, to guide us forward. It’s a responsibility for all, and a huge one.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com.

 



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