If you ask a bunch of high school students to collect things that they think represent our culture in this point in time, you have to be prepared for anything.
That's exactly what the New York Historical Society did in response to the recent opening of the 100-year-old time capsule created by the Lower Wall Street Business Men's Association in 1914. But these aren't just any high school students—they're New York Historical Society interns—young historians.
Their agenda in collecting items for a new time capsule isn't self-promotion or to establish their place in history like the men of the Lower Wall Street Business Men's Association, who filled their capsule with "mainly financial records and budgets." The agenda of these young adults is simply accuracy.
"We're just trying to tell them how our everyday lives were," sophomore Youssef Abdelzaher told CBS New York about the contents of the new time capsule.
What does American culture look like today anyway?
When the Society opens the new time capsule in 2114, in addition to finding some typical items like a dollar bill, a map of New York and a Metro card, they will find the following:
- A pair of Lady Gaga tickets
- A shirt that reads "Some dudes marry dudes, get over it"
- Buttons supporting Occupy Wall Street
- Ear buds
- A Starbucks cup
- Humans of New York book
I'll admit my first reaction to seeing some of these items was "oh, brother." On second thought, however, I realized just how accurate the list really is. I can visualize a young adult walking around the streets of New York with all of these things in their possession on any given day and blending right in.
What does that say about our culture?
Granted, the items could have been very different coming from a group of 30-something professionals or retirees. But there's a reason why we care about what young adults think and why they are one of the most catered-to demographics in America—they are the future.
It's the same reason we care about what young adults think of marriage and family or why we care that a greater number of young adults these days aren't getting married. It's why we care about their thoughts on the sanctity of life, and fight for their religious freedom and their rights to free speech, especially in schools and on college campuses.
A culture is shaped by the values of the people who live in it. What do today's young adults really value? While there is plenty of evidence in the list of time capsule items, this is the type of thoughtful, respectful discussion we need to have with young adults if we really care about transforming the culture in America.
Students across the U.S. help shape our culture on a daily basis, but peer pressure is real. Please join us in praying for them as they navigate the world and continue to form and defend their faith and values.
You can also help by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter and encourage your friends and family to have these important conversations with the young adults in their lives.
What do you think the time capsule says about American culture today? Leave a comment below.