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Turn your back on them for even a minute and they'll have us in a war in some foreign country.

A few years before I retired from my newspaper career, one of our newer, younger reporters made an off-the-cuff comment: "Of course, Mikel Kelly doesn't like young people."

Everybody laughed at his observation, including me, because I'd spent many years encouraging that perception. Older editors who interact with younger reporters often bemoan the fact that the staffers don't recognize such casual references as music, TV shows, movies, names of historical figures, grammatical rules, how to spell words, etc.Kelly

When you're 40 years older than your coworkers, it's only natural that you make fun of your writers for not knowing who had a hit with "The Game of Love" (Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders), who was president during Vietnam (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and maybe even Eisenhower), how tax-increment financing works (too complicated to explain here), where the vote was taken over whether Oregon should become a state (Champoeg) or who wrote "Grapes of Wrath" (John Steinbeck). And, after enough of this kind of good-natured ridicule, it's unavoidable that you gain a reputation for not being fond of young people.

But only recently have I have come to realize that, hey, I don't dislike young people. It is old people I truly hate.

And before I go any farther, allow me to explain that I consider anyone older than me to be the truly old — with the single exception of my cousin Sandra, who is almost exactly 10 years older than me, because she is physically fit and smart as a whip. While I am a spritely and youthful 74, I have decided that the real elderly are those one year older than me (Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton — basically anyone graduating high school in the class of '64 or before).

And these are the old people I detest.

Think about it for a second. Who decides to send our young people off to war? That's right, the oldies. George W. Bush, with the help of even older people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, authorized the invasion of Afghanistan, even though there wasn't any particular country responsible for the 9-11 attacks on our country.

See? That's old people for you. Turn your back on them for even a minute and they'll have us in a war in some foreign country. But it won't be THEM fighting the war — oh, no. For that, they need young people. Frisky, impetuous young people who are almost always willing to sign up for something as exciting as fighting and shooting guns.

It's always been that way, of course. Both of the world wars, Korea, the Civil War, Spanish American, even the American Revolution. Like the sporting events so many of us love to watch, it's always young people jumping around doing the physical things, while the rest of us sit in the stands or (even more likely) on our couches watching the action.

It's also ironic, I think, that many of these old geezers sending our youth off to fight didn't actually serve in uniform themselves. Their personal knowledge of war came from watching movies starring folks like John Wayne, Montgomery Clift and Martin Sheen. I'm not a huge fan of military leaders, either, but it always seemed to me that folks like Eisenhower, Schwarzkopf and Powell did not take the idea of war lightly — and they had actual experience with it.

There are plenty of other reasons to dislike old people, of course. Their memories are slipping, they repeat the same stories over and over, they still wear the clothes they liked when they were in their prime six or seven decades ago — and, let's not forget, they're often grumpy, if not downright mean to those around them.

No, compared to these old goats, young people are a refreshing change of pace. I don't actually get to interact with many of them anymore, what with the pandemic and the price of gas and all.

Mikel Kelly, still a year from being truly old, retired from community newspapers in 2015 and now fills his days watching the squirrels outside his living room window and watching lots and lots of TV.


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