Life of Riley

Issue 

You spend all your youthful years trying to get ahead. Isn't that right? You learn early that to get ahead you need to jockey for a position. Once there you should be set for life. But despite your immense talent and aptitude (at least Mum always said so) maybe progress proves slow. Opportunity never seems to knock. What you need is an opening. Have faith, these things do exist. An opening is a little hole in the social fabric of society into which you could squeeze. Currently there are fewer openings than there were a while ago. In fact, I am sorry to say, that there are not enough openings to go around. At this very moment, thousands of our fellow citizens are without rather than within. They're knocking on doors and asking: "Any openings today?" only to have them closed to them. This seems a little unfair, don't you think? After spending all that time learning to read and write, and sitting up straight in class, maybe a little more honesty would be appreciated. In addressing the student body a teacher should not be asking what you want to be when you grow up but insisting: "Get real, kids. When you grow up you are going to be unemployed — definitely, likely or sometimes." Now that's schooling for the modern world! As for mathematics, something of the real world could be fostered there too so that all that figuring out related more directly to the adolescent lifestyle: "If I had three casual jobs and 10 applicants — and eight of these were under 21 — what is the lowest common denominator I would need to pay in wages?" With snappy quizzes such as these no one is going to nod off during class. In human relationship training, beside condom care and getting to know the clitoris, what our school system needs are courses discussing the best ways to deal with cop harassment. Geography lessons could explore the great malls of Australia's cities because nowadays — as young folk know — that's as far as the entertainment dollar goes. In a world short on openings we need to catch up with reality, teach the youth to make the best of it. This way we can abolish the epidemic of poor self-esteem that gnaws at the frequently unemployed young. Instead of filling their heads with twaddle about careers we should be introducing them to bum-hood because that's what's currently on offer. Maybe you are thinking that I am too coarse. Maybe you believe that more openings are sure to arrive soon. Maybe you are banking on Working Nation and a hard fought federal election campaign. Maybe you believe in Santa Claus. So kids — if I may stereotype you for a moment — tell the rest of us to get stuffed. If you want a world with openings, if you want to get ahead in life, don't come complaining to me. Instead, do what you have to do, but change the world. It needs it. Dave Riley Á

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.