Peter Gomes Talks About America's Youth

Question: How do you explain the resurgence of religion among today’s youth?

Peter Gomes: I think these young people have been brought up in a culture of enormous wealth, enormous power, enormous opportunity.  The least well-off of them is considerably better than the best of their ancestors.  I think they recognize that. They see the signs off success – as the world defines success – and opulence on every hand.  They’re surrounded by sensation.  They’re surrounded by violence.  They’re surrounded by politics.  None of these are capable of delivering the goods and I think they recognize that.  And I think there is a desire to find something that will last, something that will endure, something that will not disappoint.  And when you do that, inevitably you are tempted to turn back to the elders, to the wisdom of another age, to something that might not seem to have appealed to you in your earlier phase; but your earlier phase, you recognize, was a deceitful and deceptive one.  You ask Harvard graduates where they’re all going, and they’re all going to go … 90% of the seniors in any given class say they’re going to three cities. They’re going to go to Washington to put things right: power.  They’re going to go to New York to make lots of money: the material world.  And they’re going to Los Angeles to have fun: fantasy.  And I think they come back from all three of those cities discovering that, like Oz, there’s no there there. Washington is not going to turn the world right side up. All the money in New York doesn’t spare it the troubles and tribulations of living in New York.  And all the fantasy from la la land doesn’t dull the pain from living in a life with no meaning and no value.  And that’s a modern symbol, I think.  People say, “Okay.  There must be another way.”  Maybe Jerusalem is the place.  Maybe a pilgrimage to a holy city is the place.  Maybe some … somewhere.  Maybe sitting under a … tree.  Who knows?  But there are wiser people than we who, years ago, have discovered some of these truths.  Maybe we even heard them in our youth.  And maybe the trick is to try to recapture, recover some of that for ourselves now.  I think that’s part of the excitement.

Recorded on: 6/12/07

No matter where they go after college, young people discover there's no there there.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news

Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?

Videos
  • "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
  • The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
  • Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
Keep reading Show less