Monday, June 1, 2009

Re-Inventing The Wheel

With the 'help' of one of my young cousins, I spent this past weekend putting a starter in the car of one of my other cousins.
When my cousin asked why I didn't just take the car to the shop - my answer was two-fold.

One - was because I wanted this generation to know how to do what many from a previous missed.
Many parents think that if they could make it from the ground up - their children should.
But this thought process is like re-inventing the wheel.
This thought process leads to the loss of historical and social knowledge.
This idea (of thinking that all children need to learn from the school of hard knocks) creates a concept of "good enough for Black people" being passed from generation to generation.

The second reason was to teach him to keep as much of his own wealth as possible.
Saturday was lawn day for most of by block.
When I pointed out the older neighbors doing their own lawns and that the new-money young cats hire lawn services to do their laws on Fridays - I asked him "Why?".
He thought it was because the younger guys had more money.
But the truth was that most of the people who had a lawn service were the ones making monthly mortgage payments on their homes.
The old school cats doing their own lawns have had their homes paid for before they even moved in.
The old school cats bought their cars with cash, bought their appliances and furniture with no-interest financing (and paid the loan off before it was due), and remodeled with cash on hand.
The old school cats own their own business doing work that many of the flashy new school guys think is beneath them.

I wasn't trying to teach my young cousin to go through life afraid to take chances or to dress like a Mennonite.
There is nothing wrong with flossin' - just have some substance to back it up.
But much of this teaching goes without being taught.
There are no apprenticeships.
Many of today's children have missed these steps.
There are no longer any 'rights of passage' for many of today's youths - leaving them to invent processes to navigate the complex social and financial systems on their own (and having to deal with the consequences of their mistakes).

So besides learning how to tear out and replace a starter - my cousin learned to keep as much of his own wealth as possible - instead of spending it on others who own their own businesses.


Max Reddick said...

Very good lesson indeed. I remember getting the same lesson from my uncles and dad when I was a young man.

The problem is that there are not many of those old school cats who are able to teach such a lesson and who are willing to teach such a lesson.

FreeMan said...

Until we are able to document our lessons learned in a easily readable transferable manner each generation will keep reinventing the wheel. The Bible survived past Jesus and all the authors. If we leave it up to people to tell when all younger generations believe the older ones are stupid and doing things the old fashioned way then we will lose again. We have to make a general playbook for our kids and get that in our schools so they just think it's normal. Young people learn things not because they want to but because it's forced upon them, if there are no men to pass it on then we need to take it to the institutional level.

brohammas said...

As Peter Tosh said, "you can't blame the youth"... [not completely]
Whil all you say about the young generation is true, I would say we are in the second generation of all this. The Boomers did not correct the problems of thier upbringing but created new problems. It seems fathers of that generation were either trying to be a buddy to the kid or split town all together.
Those with money outsourced all things, including parental responsability (to schools, nannies, or the state).
I remember talking about the concept of chastity with a 23 year old. He was astounded and had actually never heard of a person who lived that law. My initial thought was about the pervasivness of media sexuality, but then I realized that this dude, and most everyone he knew, were the children of unwed parents, who were themselves the children of unwed parents. This guy was third generation.

How can i expect a person to know something if those responsible for teaching don't know either.

RunningMom said...

I pay the lawn guy because my lawnmower is broken and I don't know how to fix it. And no, I haven't tried to figure it out. I'm ashamed, very ashamed, lol.

My son and I worked together to put the BBQ together, but we haven't tackled anything more involved yet....

uglyblackjohn said...

@ Max - Yeah, and as I forgot to re-install the oil filter before testing the starter - he also got a lesson an accidental oil change.

@ FreeMan - The institutions (Church, schools, are what is failing us.
Most young guys can spot a hustle.
Most of these institutions have become hustles.

@ brohammas - I'd say that the outsourcing is the biggest problem.
Kids repect those who teach.
If a stranger is the one teaching your children all the important lessons in life - those strangers are the ones he'll respect.
The parents will be seen as just financial assets.

@ RunningMom - Yea... that's pretty much "Mom mistake number 1".
I know he's YOUR baby - but he is not A baby.
Let him take some classes at Home Depot or Lowes on home repair.
Competence breeds confidence.