Like all of our readers, I’m pretty sad right now, to put it mildly. The horrific mix of emotions that accompanies hearing about what happened in Uvalde, Texas is indescribable, but I don’t have to describe it because you are experiencing it too. I am not going to comment here on what we need to do to solve the problem and prevent these tragedies in the future, both because this is not the place for these debates and because there are already many ongoing debates. Instead, I want to talk about one small thing we can all do to be a small part of the solution.
Many of our boys are not well
One of the main drivers of this violence (among many other things) is that there are a lot of young people in the United States who are not doing very well emotionally. The future may seem unimaginable to them and their past may have terrible things in it. The guy who ruined not only his life but the lives of other kids apparently had a history of severe bullying, serious family issues at home, and felt no hope for the future. We don’t know exactly how it all played out in this guy’s mind, but we do know that an argument over finances with his grandmother ended up bringing him to the brink in one way or another. ‘another one.
This tragic story reminded me of some young men I know, including my own son. There is a grave crisis facing young men in America today. They are much more likely than young women to become involved in crime and violence. They do not complete their education as often as young women and do not attend university or a vocational training program as often. More men aged 18-34 live with their parents than with a wife, girlfriend or LGBT partner. Jobs that typically appeal to men have disappeared, leaving many unemployed.
Worse still, being unemployed makes them much less likely to find a partner in life, since the women they want to be with are usually looking for a stable husband (which makes sense).
This leaves many young men with a dark future on their minds. They think they might end up without any of the things they want in life. Add to that other life issues like a dysfunctional family, socio-economic issues, bullying, and other toxic things, and we’re setting the perfect stage for human catastrophe.
As a parent, this scares me. I had many conversations with my boys and other young men in my family about their future. My two sons have expressed fears about their future, because they are more attentive to the world than you think. To keep them healthy, I had to work hard to make sure they had light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope the light isn’t an oncoming train. I hope all of you with sons have these discussions and make sure your boys are okay too.
Helping our own children is not enough
One of the really cool things about clean tech is that it can be really convenient, and that’s something a lot of men appreciate. Of course, I don’t want to reinforce toxic stereotypes, because men can have all kinds of interests and personalities. But, I’ve seen that young men who like to work with their hands are more likely to feel the struggle right now, because schools and many families want all of their sons to become “doctors, lawyers, etc.” and it can leave them feeling like failures.
Obviously, we can’t go out and teach every boy how to work on solar panels, battery storage, and electric vehicle manufacturing and/or repair (but these are great areas to help guide these young men if it suits their personality and talents). What we can do when they’re too young for these kinds of professional programs is make sure they’re exposed to it and have fun doing it.
Some ideas for doing this
If you are a Clean Technica reader, you are probably passionate about clean technologies. So it’s probably a good idea to share this passion with the kids whenever you can. For many children this will be boring, but for some of them it will ignite a spark in their imagination and give them a kind of North Star. It can save lives in many ways.
You think that’s silly? Keep in mind that an important part of the history of electric and solar vehicles was a silly little solar-powered toy car at a 1955 auto show. It inspired a number of kids who then marked the history of electric vehicles.
At a very young age, consider talking with your children’s teachers about bringing in a Tesla or other electric vehicle to show and tell. Letting kids see something different (and cool) can give them ideas. Talk to the kids about how the car was made, how it works, and why it’s awesome. Tell them they could one day help build them or make a better one. Talk to other schools and other teachers (especially science teachers) to see if you can do a demonstration for the students.
Or, better yet, grab a whole EV club to show off the cars to students of all ages. It’s even cooler.
For older kids (middle and high school), talk to the store and tech teachers about doing something similar, but let the kids (under adult supervision) get more involved. If you have a really cool high school with an elevator, take a look below as well.
Another cool thing that kids love is solar power plants, aka solar generators. If you have one, lend it to the local school or give one to a tech teacher. The basic idea of solar energy, batteries and doing something useful with that energy can help some kids find careers or at the very least see that interesting things are happening in the world. If you’re more technically inclined, demonstrating a small lithium battery, charge controller, and panel might give high schoolers a deeper insight into how it works.
If you’re a renewable energy professional, get involved with schools, youth groups, and churches to provide fun activities for kids that teach them about your career. If you’re just an enthusiast, think of other ways to get out there and share your passion with the kids (and consider sharing them in the comments).
Also look for opportunities to participate in things like the solar toy car race I talked about in this article, or something similar. Or, start one in your community.
It’s obviously not a complete solution, but it’s a good thing to do
I know that alone will not be enough to solve the problem. Actions of all kinds and at all levels will be needed to make things better and safer for our children, and you probably already have your own ideas of what we need. You should definitely pursue those other things and try to make the world a better place, even though we can’t all agree on what those things are. There can never be too many good people advocating for children.
Consider sharing your passion with the world and doing this little thing to help a few young men find practical, technical careers that have a bright future. Even if you don’t save lives, you will improve at least a few of them, and it’s worth the little effort it takes.
Featured Image: My Jackery 500 Solar Generator.
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