As a celibate woman religious, I sometimes ponder what I will leave behind when I pass on. I won’t be leaving behind children, grandchildren, etc., so I find myself feeling attracted to the notion of having an “option for youth.” What I mean by that is a presence to young people that is mutual and collegial rather than pedantic and condescending. Too many people of my generation or older have a hard time appreciating what these talented human beings bring to the table.
Teaching at a university gives me a great opportunity to work with young adults. In many ways, they are quite different from me. They don’t always behave in the way I would; they like different music, hobbies, book, movies, etc. I find that I have to earn their respect – it’s not a given – but there are so many adults who are untrustworthy, I can hardly blame young people for their suspicion.
I have found that the best way to earn the respect of my students is to respect them first. Seeing them as junior colleagues instead of as subordinates, being open to their insights and views on things, all contribute to a sense of mutuality. Above all, I must “walk the talk.” If my actions don’t enflesh the values I promote, then I have no claim on their respect.
The organization “Call to Action” has a young adult program called NextGen. A group of these young Catholics who love the Church started a blog several months ago. I haven’t read all the entries, having just visited it today, and I’m guessing I won’t always agree with their views or how they present them, but I am very interested to hear their perspectives. They do not reflect the views of ALL young Catholics, by any means, but they do debunk any notion that all young Catholics are conservative. Check out this blog at http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/.