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

    November 19, 2018 |

    Thanks, Lynn. It appears there was a problem with the comment system. Cheers, Harold

  • lynnmcneill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Hi Harold – looks great!

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!

  • Ann and Herb

    January 17, 2016 |

    Love the new music – one of my most favourite ever- and love the story. Thank you for keeping us forever young in the photo! It is such a gift to know a person who writes so joyously and respectfully of his family and friends. It fills our hearts to know that you count us among them.

    A & H