Investing in the next generation pays so many dividends. It raises the community level while reducing crime.

I’ve devoted much of the past 25 years developing soccer referees. Many are young people. Most won’t referee for many years. But I’ve felt that if I can influence them in a positive direction and give them some life skills, then I’ve made a positive impact on them and on society.

For this work, I’ve just received an award from the Southern Ohio Adult Soccer Association and the Ohio South State Referee Committee. It is a great honor.

That’s me in the blue shirt. On either side are the youth referees of the year from Ohio South (on my left) and Ohio North. Talking with them after the award ceremony at half-time of the Columbus Crew MLS match last Saturday was rewarding. They are great kids with a great outlook on life. When you get discouraged reading media reports about the next generation, just go out and work with some of them.

Couple this with a TED Talk I just heard from David R. Dow, a death row lawyer. He notes that 76% of inmates on death row had previously in life been involved in the juvenile justice system. What if, he asks, we as a community had intervened in their lives when they were at risk, but before they had taken someone’s life?

We would not only have saved a couple of lives, but we’d save a lot of money (if you’re of a frugal mindset) from the court and jail system.

I think that it is a human task–to bring up the next generation. It’s not something that should be pushed off to someone else while we pursue our own selfish “happiness.” It’s not something that stops after you’ve raised your own kids. It’s our task until we die.

I wish I could help everyone of these people that I meet. It’s never enough. Can you help nudge someone toward a useful career in science and technology? Or even just being a productive member of society?

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