Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth.

“Always we hear the cry from teenagers ‘What can we do, where can we go?’
… My answer is, “Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons and, after you’ve finished, read a book.”

“Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.”

“In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you…”

Oh what a breath of fresh air!

Author: ricksrant

I am perfect, well I think so and I am never wrong so it must be true.

14 thoughts on “Youth”

  1. While I do have a some sympathy with the gentleman’s point of view, I think it is only to fair to point out that since his day, probably, health and safety rules along with changing moral values, have made being a teenager much less fun than it used to be, 30 or so years ago. Most of the things my friends and I got up to would probably have landed my parents in goal and me and my siblings in care or a young offenders’ institution, despite that fact that at the time we were mostly decent, polite, respectful law abiding kids. When considering the number of hours we used to spend finding ways of blowing things up most modern psychologists would be gobsmacked that we did not all turn into terrorists. As for building tree-houses, riding bucking broncos, rock climbing, motorbike riding, bare fist fighting, hunting etc, all with out safety gear or proper supervision even I am slightly in awe of the fact that so many of us survived. The point being, that young people, boys especially, need excitement, thrills and danger. They need to push the limits to see what they can get away with. They will find their own entertainment if given the chance. The problem is that there is very little that they are allowed to do these days. Given the childhood I had, I would not want to be a teenager in today’s world even with all the modern toys, games, diversions, entertainment and parental indulgence they have. We were lucky.

  2. I’ve spent most of my live in various small towns and rural areas stretching from the Luxembourg Frontier to northern Polynesia. I’ve been afforded fitness centres, hiking paths, open fields, clouds, blue skies, and fresh air. I’ve also been given the chance to volunteer in some of the most strikingly beautiful places in the world. It may not have paid in cash, but I could drink good coffee, learn, and meet people from around the world. The stories I could tell, but that’s for another post and another day. Rome, Lisbon, London, Montreal, Melbourne, and Kyoto did not come prefabricated from Asda. They had to be built, bit by bit, over a long period of time. Pity the technology generation that can’t see past its newest iPhone.

  3. Great post, Rick. I would have difficulty disagreeing with the sentiments expressed.

    But –

    I fear it is one of those spoof, or apocryphal tales that regularly do the rounds in cyberspace. A little searching reveals that John Tapene is real enough, sounds like a nice bloke, he plays guitar and you can find at least one photo of him. The quotation appears in several New Zealand sites, the most authoritative of which is an NZ radio station. That site, and several others, adds the information that the original utterance was made by a Judge in Brisbane Juvenile Court.

    I searched further. I was not surprised to find that my suspicions were soon confirmed – we do not have a Juvenile Court in Brisbane, or anywhere else in Queensland. Sure we have special arrangements for young offenders, but we do not usually call them juveniles.

    Similarly, had said Judge been speaking in Brisbane, he would have said city, not town. I’m only a very amateur linguist, but there’s quite a lot in that speech that doesn’t sound Australian, let alone the style of a banana-bender. Example – we don’t often say “mow the lawn” – we “cut the grass in the yard”.

    So I may well be wrong, but I’m forced to conclude that this worthy oration did not originate where it’s purported to come from, and is probably as fake as the one that claims that “John Howard / Kevin Rudd / Julia Gillard said last Wednesday …”, quoted on The Chariot several times.

    Quite a shame! 🙂

  4. Rick, I don’t know if you got a reply re moderation of my comment, but while I agree that the original message was probably apocryphal I stand by my observation and would add that apart from building a raft (how many homes have bodies of water sufficiently close for that to be feasible or legal?), none of the activities are likely to stir the excitement of the young of any generation. If they are going to mow the lawn, visit the sick etc, there needs to be a quid pro quo. In my view.

  5. I cannot help agreeing with the comments above but there is one proviso. Do not forget the role parents, or more precisely, society has played in all this. The eflin sayfetee brigade and the “all shall have prizes” crew are equally to blame. While it would be good to think that youngsters had a bit more initiative, and some most definitely do, the bed-wetting brigade of the leftie liberals is the real problem.

  6. Sipu – why would your misdeeds cause your parents to be in goal? Is soccer such a terrible game? 😀

    Bearsy – well researched and you’re probably correct – but as you say, such great sentiment!

    I’m not convinced H&S are to blame – any kid can still climb trees and make a raft without corporate interference, but life is just too easy for them nowadays and nothing is expected of them so they do just that.

  7. cuprum426 :

    Sipu – why would your misdeeds cause your parents to be in goal? Is soccer such a terrible game? :D

    Cuprum, I hope that they would have been arrested had they sent us to a soccer-playing school. Luckily we played rugby. But I was thinking more about our access to dangerous weapons, chemicals and vehicles etc.
    Aged 10, I was taking my dad’s 12 bore shotgun around the farm, alone apart from a piccanin companion to help carry my bag.

    I recall very clearly walking into the village chemist, aged about 9, and purchasing half a pound of saltpeter. There was sulphur in the farm’s chemical shed and we used to make our own charcoal from tin cans stuffed with grass and a small hole in the lid. When the chemist finally twigged that we were making our own gunpowder, we had to resort to other methods. And boy were we successful on that front.

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