February 22, 2013

Editorial: Leading the way to helpfulness


---- — Here’s an interesting twist: Teenagers don’t think adults are setting a good example when it comes to helping others.

Older Americans are usually the ones griping about how insensitive and uncaring young people are “these days.” They complain that teenagers don’t have any manners, dress like slobs and are rude. Of course, that has been the standard complaint of older citizens of every generation.

And you likely wouldn’t find many people today who would suggest that Facebook and Twitter encourage kindness toward others. After all, authorities are always harping on cyber bullying and other purported dangers of social media.

So it’s surprising to hear about a new World Vision study, conducted online by Harris Interactive, that shows that 56 percent of teens say social-media sites have made them more aware of the needs of others. That’s up considerably from the 44 percent who felt that way just two years ago.

And what’s more, 68 percent of the teens surveyed said that, when it comes to helping those in need, adults don’t do enough to set a positive example. That might be a little bit of a surprise to the Baby Boomers, who grew up in the “Save the World” Sixties. Weren’t we all about taking care of each other and our world? Weren’t we all about peace and love?

So, in light of the survey, adults might want to assess just what kind of example they are setting for the youths in their lives. Are we talking about the importance of community service but not actually taking part? Are we saying charities need help but not forking over any money?

And let’s appreciate social media a little more for its ability to connect quickly with many people in a positive way. We have seen fundraisers spring up on Facebook to help North Country people in need — with a fast and effective payoff.

World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, did the survey as part of a promotion for its 30-Hour Famine, which raises funds and hunger awareness.

30HF, as it is called, takes place today and Saturday and again April 26 and 27. It has raised more than $150 million to fight world hunger since it started in 1992. This year, for the first time, 30HF funds are being designated to fight hunger here in the United States.

World Vision is encouraging teens to use Facebook to promote the 30-Hour Famine. They are supposed to raise money, then consume only water and juice as they participate in community-service projects at local food banks and homeless shelters.

It’s school vacation week around here, so teenagers would have time to participate, if they are interested.

And maybe Mom and Dad can pitch in, too — to set that important example. They can earn respect from their kids while earning money to help their community.