Friday, March 4, 2022

Do Our Students Think That The World Is Coming To An End?

As more and more of my students come to me with tales of illness and insomnia, asking for forbearance, and at times, for help and advice, I am starting to wonder whether a profound pessimism about the future contributes to their distress. Learning that the death of the brilliant Stanford soccer captain, a goalie on that school’s national championship team, was caused by suicide, only heightened my concerns On some profound level, do our brightest and most sensitive young people think the world is coming to an end, and that they have no future worth working for? The signs of doom are all around them- a deadly Pandemic that took much of the joy out of their lives, climate catastrophes that just keep mounting without the political will to deal with them, a toxic political environment filled with division and hate , and now, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the very real threat of nuclear war. If a student confides in me, as one did yesterday, that they are crippled by insomnia, what am I supposed to tell them-that everything is going to be all right? Humanity is in deep trouble right now, and I would be lying if I told my students that I know a way out. I am not scared for myself- I have lived a much longer and more productive life than I ever expected to- but I am terrified for the kind, thoughtful, talented young people I work with every day. I try to be as strong and compassionate as I can in communicating with them, but I am very very worried that many of the issues they face are way out of my control, and that I can’t do all that much to help them