Category Archives: America

Courtroom Advice

Appearing before a judge with a bad attitude will most certainly not produce the results you expected. As incredulous as it may seem, there are those who actually have appeared in court with an attitude and expected the matter to be resolved in their favor.

Once I remember a young man grumbling out loud that he needed to go. He was in a hurry. So the judge called his case, relieved him of his driving privileges and sent him on his way. Another time a woman slammed the door on her way out and was quickly escorted back into the courtroom. She stayed the night a guest of the county jail.

To Read or Not to Read

Reading is perhaps the most vital skill which all youth must possess. And yet the vast majority of the young men I have mentored do not read. Some, very few at that, become avid readers later in life once the school of hard knocks has dealt them some serious lessons. But could this be the great deterrent to those hard knocks?

We will never know. In most cases, they have had no example of the benefits of reading or of books in their lives. Most of the homes I have ventured into are devoid of books. Children that read are usually the offspring of parents who value reading. It will difficult to be a student of life without an interest in reading.

No Such Expert

There is no such thing as an expert on youth. Youth culture is dynamic and therefore shifts continuously. It is always  troubling to meet someone who presents themselves as an expert in youth, or makes a claims to know everything there is to know about youth. I much prefer the person who is asking questions, absorbing feedback, reading and opining.

Youth culture continuously shifts, it changes, it is dynamic. The most popular art form with youth culture continues to be music, however reading has also gained great strength; just ask our friend Harry Potter. Rap music has also produced a new and unique brand of poetry and poems. All of this has happened within youth culture. The best we can hope to accomplish in terms of expertise is to be dedicated students of youth culture.

Lessons in a Courtroom

A day in court can emphasize the need to have purpose in your life. For many of my middle class friends the idea that one needs to have purpose in one’s life is a no-brainer. It’s one of those statements that will be met with a sarcastic remark. Something along the lines of, “no kidding,” or worse.

This is not the case for many of the young men and young women I have seen in court. Far too many live in state of stunted animation. There is no planning for a better tomorrow. What comes along, comes along. For many that something is idle time, which indeed is the devil’s workshop. Even if there are thoughts of a goal there is no hurry. Entertainment is king and so goals can wait.

True Change

The day of court can be like the drunk who is about to be sick, he is full of regret and false promises. Unfortunately, if I was wrong, the recidivism rates of repeat offenders would be much lower, but they aren’t. I have been in court numerous times in my life alongside young men I mentor. Most have been repentant in those moments, but the lesson has really not taken root.

There have been a few who have learned their lesson and have never gone back to the friends or activities which landed them in court. In order to make this change there has to be a powerful motivating force. This force must create a need to examine his values and make changes accordingly. When I hear a kid say “I’m gonna be good,” I know we’re doomed to repeat this cycle soon. “Good” must be defined.

Success: Proper manners & Proper English

Proper manners and proper English will open many doors on the journey to success. The fool doesn’t get this. Although we would love to think that it is evil to “judge” in real life we judge everyday, all day. Some for the sake of haughtiness, others to make safe decisions, still others to hire the right person.

Even so I have many young friends who believe that the world is going to bend to their wishes and allow them to behave as they please. Then they get fired or passed over. But instead of facing facts and reviewing the outcome they create an excuse or two. Our greatest adversary will always face in the mirror. Start with that guy.

A Good Education

Graduating from high school is important. However, learning to read, write and speak proper English is more important. Sometimes I have to say the obvious to highlight a deeper and darker problem that is in our midst. Not too long ago I read a report that stated that 25% of Army applicants are unable to pass the ASVAB and are therefore ineligible to enter the Army. They all have high school diplomas.

For years I have worked with at-risk youth, many of whom have struggled with reading, or writing or speaking proper English. Or all three. This is not good. Many of them also graduated high school. How you might ask? We always hear about that kd that slipped through the cracks. Is this really the case or is it that the standards are so low that this is the new norm?