The Future Belongs to the Young

Written by Harold McNeill on November 14th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue

Young People – A Majority in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos


The photo was taken in front of the Presidential Palace in Saigon (October, 2016 hdm).

This group of young people wanted a photo with two of our group from South Africa with whom they had been chatting. Virtually everywhere you travel in Viet Nam and Cambodia you will find young people eager to exchange a few words and to have a photo taken with a tourist. Look at those wonderful smiles.

Part I:   An Open Letter
Part II:  Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990
Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit  (in progress, Password Protected)
Part IV  The Future Belongs to the Young
art V   River Cruising (in progress)

Part IV: The Future Belongs to the Young

The title, of course, is used in a figurative sense.  As I grow older and particularly over the last 25 years (50-75), I have become convinced that forging a better world must be placed in the hands of positive, forward-looking young people. You might also include older people, but only if they have not become jaded and are willing to debate the issues with an open mind. Any discussion that focusses on Us versus Them is going nowhere.  

Lynn and I have travelled to many countries that have only recently emerged from war or were controlled in whole or in part by vicious tyrants.  It was pretty easy to tell how well the country was doing by simply talking to young people. If the young are happy and forward looking, we felt assured the country was moving in a positive direction, but if they were looking for a way out, it was a good bet the country was not doing all that well.

Three weeks in Viet Nam and Cambodia, countries that have only been on the road to recovery for just over 25 years and where the populations are young (e.g. the median age in Viet Nam is 30, in Cambodia, 25, and Laos 22), further convinced us this is the case. In you happen to read the two linked Travelogues, perhaps you will gain some understanding as to why we think this to be the case, and why we think Canada, even with a somewhat older population (median age 40), in recent years at least, is following suit.

The United States may eventually follow the same path as soon as young people wake up (as they did during the turbulent 60’s and 70’s) and begin to elect politicians who look toward a positive future rather than one filled with hate and fear.

When we awoke November 9, 2016, at 4:00 am, to see the headline Trump Elected President, it was disheartening, but not the least bit surprising. What hurt was to see a once great nation turning on itself not just in this election, but over the past couple of decades. Fear and hate is now standard fare in the United States, and Trump played those cards in most excellent fashion.

The fault-line is poverty and a lack of any real hope for the future for a large percentage of the population. We have all watched as those who manage large sums of money (e.g. Wall Street, Big Banks, Big Business, Multinationals) protect themselves (again and again) against being held accountable for their financial misdeeds. It has crippled large sections of an otherwise wealthy nation, and their government seems unable or unwilling to tackle these ongoing issues.

During the summer of 2015, my son-in-law Ed Walker and grandson Grayson travelled to New Orleans for a culinary convention. Unlike our previous visit in 2013, this time we travelled outside the French Quarter. Just a few blocks away from the glitter, the desperation and lack of hope are palpable.

It was hard to believe that two cities, Victoria and New Orleans, or even Louisiana and British Columbia, could be so similar, yet so different when it came to the poverty fault-line. Link to a full discussion: New Orleans: Behind the Mask

I have no idea how the demographics played out in the recent US election, but in almost every state across the southeast and the North Central Industrial and Farm Heartland, people voted for Trump. He directed his message to those who have suffered much or simply wanted change. Clinton, on the other hand, in every way represented the establishment. She had no connection with the poor or disposed.

FB and Twitter posts were all over the map, but a thread posted by our youngest daughter, Christine contained some amazing information.14980778_10154005654456179_171732286570441751_n It only took 25% of the US electorate to put Trump in office. Nearly 50% of the population did not bother vote.  Further down Christine’s thread was this comment about Canadian election statistics:

“The median voter turnout for Canada’s general elections since 1867 has been 70.3%.  The average turnout for general elections since 1867 is 70.7%. The highest turnouts were in 1958, 1962, and 1963, at just over 79%. The lowest turnout on record was in 2008, at 58.8%. For the 2011 election, at 61.4%, was the third lowest in Canadian history. The next election, 2015 with Harper vs Trudeau, rose sharply to 68.5%, the highest turnout since 1993.  (Celeste Folk St Onge)”

Now back to the role of young people. In the recent US election and the Canadian elections of 2008 and 2011, young people stayed away from the ballot box. Then in the recent Canadian election (2015) they returned with a vengeance when three parties brought generally positive messages about the future, while the fourth continued to carry the hate and fear message that had served them so well in previous elections.

An editorial posted following the Canadian election titled: The New Face of Canada outlined why young people represented a turning point in moving the country forward.

Perhaps over the next four years, youth in the United States will find their voice and as in Canada, just say no to the politics of fear.

Is this possible?  I believe it is.

Harold McNeill

Link to November 2016 Travelogue Viet Nam and Cambodia

Link to a 2015 editorial:  The New Face of Canada


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  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.