Like all of our readers, I’m pretty sad right now, and that’s an understatement. The horrible mix of emotions that comes with hearing about what happened in Uvalde, Texas is indescribable, but I don’t have to describe it because you’re experiencing it too. I’m 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 isn’t the place for those debates and because there’s already plenty of debate happening. 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 OK
One of the big drivers of this violence (among many things) is that there are a lot of youth in the United States who aren’t doing very well emotionally. The future can seem unimaginable to them, and their pasts can have some terrible things. The guy who wasted not only his life, but the lives of other kids apparently had a history of severe bullying, serious family problems at home, and felt no hope for the future. We don’t know exactly how this all played out in this guy’s mind, but we do know that an argument over finances with his grandmother ended up putting him over the edge in some way.
This tragic tale reminded me of some young men I know, including my own son. There’s a serious crisis facing young men in America today. They’re far more likely than young women to end up involved in crime and violence. They don’t finish school as often as young women, and don’t go to college or a job training program as often. More men aged 18-34 live with parents than live with a wife, girlfriend, or LGBT partner. Jobs that men generally are interested in have been going away, and this leaves many unemployed.
Even worse, being unemployed leaves them far less likely to find a partner in life, because the women they usually want to be with are looking for a stable husband (which makes sense).
This leaves many young men with a grim future in their minds. They think they might end up without any of the things they want in life. Add on other life problems like a dysfunctional family, socioeconomic problems, bullying, and other toxic things, and we set the perfect stage for a human disaster.
As a parent, this scares the hell out of me. I’ve had to have a lot of conversations with my boys and other young men in my family about their futures. Both of my sons have expressed fears about their future, because they’re more observant of the world than we think. To keep them well, I’ve had to work hard to make sure they’ve got some light at the end of the tunnel, and hope that the light isn’t an oncoming train. I hope that all of you who have sons have these talks and make sure your boys are doing OK, too.
Helping Our Own Kids Isn’t Enough
One of the really cool things about clean technology is that it can be very hands-on, and that’s something many men enjoy. Of course, I don’t want to reinforce toxic stereotypes, as men can have all sorts of interests and personalities. But, I’ve seen that the 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, and lawyers, and such,” and this can leave them feeling like failures.
Obviously, we can’t go out and teach every boy to go work on solar panels, battery storage, and EV manufacturing and/or repair (but those are great fields to help guide these young men toward if it suits their personalities and talents). What we can do when they’re too young for those kinds of professional programs is make sure they get exposed to it and have some fun doing so.
Some Ideas On Doing That
If you’re a CleanTechnica reader, you’re probably passionate about clean technology. So, it’s probably a good idea to share that passion with kids whenever you can. For many of the kids, it will be boring, but for some of them, it’s going to light a spark in their imagination and give them a North Star of sorts. That can save lives in so many ways.
Think that’s silly? Keep in mind that an important part of EV and solar history was a silly little solar-powered toy car at a 1955 auto show. It inspired a number of children who went on to make EV history later.
At really young ages, consider talking with your kids’ teachers to bring a Tesla or other EV for 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 great. Tell them that they might 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 give a demo for students.
Or, better yet, take a whole EV club to show the cars off to students of all ages. That’s even cooler.
For older kids (middle and high school), talk to the shop and technology teachers to do something similar, but let the kids (under adult supervision) get more hands-on. If you’ve got a really cool high school with a lift, let the look under it, too.
Another cool thing kids love is solar power stations, aka solar generators. If you have one, lend it to the local school or donate one to a technology teacher. The basic idea of solar power, batteries, and doing something useful with that power can help some kids find a career, or at the very least see that there are cool things happening in the world. If you’re more technically inclined, demoing a small lithium battery, charge controller, and panel could give high schoolers a deeper look into how it works.
If you’re a renewable energy professional, get involved with schools, youth groups, and churches to give kids fun activities that teach them about your career. If you’re just an enthusiast, think of more ways you can get out there and share your passion with kids (and consider sharing them in the comments).
Also, look for opportunities to participate in things like the solar toy car race I covered in this article, or something similar. Or, start one in your community.
This Obviously Isn’t A Complete Solution, But It’s A Good Thing To Do
I know this alone won’t come anywhere close to solving the problem. Action of all kinds and at every level will be needed to make things better and safer for our kids, 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 if we can’t all agree on what those things are. There can never be too many good people advocating for kids.
Consider sharing your passion with the world and doing this small thing to help a few young men find hands-on and technical careers that have a good future. Even if you don’t save lives, you’ll at least make some a little bit better, and that’s worth the small effort this takes.
Featured image: My Jackery 500 Solar Generator.
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