This is one of the commonest complaints I hear from young people (and I was surprised to be unable to find any response to it in the Q&A section of the website, since I’ve dealt with it in dozens of replies to letters and emails).
First, you have to remember what Ishmael told his student at the beginning: “If you take this educational journey with me, you’re going to find yourself alienated from the people around you—friends, family, past associates, and so on.” Well, he was serious about that, and many people find that they really are alienated from the people around them once they’ve taken this journey.
Second, it’s not really very surprising that few kids your age ” take anything involved with saving the earth seriously”; they’ve heard nothing but the voice of Mother Culture, and Mother Culture insists that everything is just fine.
Third, while you happen to be alone in your classroom in southeastern Michigan, you’re not alone in the world; there are millions of people out there who share your concerns, and a great many of them are your age; read the Guestbook and you’ll be convinced of this.
Fourth, you mustn’t allow yourself to be distressed about the people who won’t listen and don’t care; forget them and concentrate on the ones who will listen and do care; they’re there, though it may take you a while to find them.
Fifth, your classmates aren’t going to remain cocky know-it-alls forever. As they get older and their experience of the world widens, they’re going to start encountering people whose knowledge of what’s going on here is much deeper than their own, and they’re going to be forced to start listening (and caring).
Sixth, be aware that you can never change people’s minds by arguing with them; even if you silence them with your arguments, you haven’t changed their minds, you’ve just made them into enemies.
NOTE: For many years there was a Guestbook where people could register and interact with other readers. Social media interaction gradually took over this function.
updated: 13 Sep 2003