The email from my 21-year-old friend was innocent enough, but hit me like a ton of bricks.
“No sleep for me,” Teddy mass messaged friends, family and acquaintances after purchasing Destiny, the latest blow-‘em-all-up video game.
The message arrived the day Activision released its futuristic save-the-Earth-from-aliens video game. Teddy was one of 8 million gamers who enthusiastically paid $60 to be a Guardian, the last brave and trigger-happy defenders of the human race.
“No sleep for me,” Teddy wrote.
Hmmm … I had heard those words before. But where?
The answer came as I signed my name to a condolence card to the wife of the nicest man I knew.
John Brandeburg, a tireless supporter of causes he passionately believed in who passed away in early September, spoke those very words to me back in April.
I had bumped into Brande outside the Leesburg Partnership office, which was abuzz with volunteers running hither and thither the night before Bikefest.
Brande was on his way to show volunteers how to run a beer tent that would generate funds for the Leesburg Lightning baseball team. I told him he looked tired. He replied, “No sleep for me. Not when we’re this close to the start of Bikefest.”
Brande spent many sleepless nights staying awake to promote baseball, his wife’s candidacy for the Lake County School Board, political candidates he supported and any cause that promised to improve Leesburg.
Brande was truly a community servant. He slaved for things he believed in.
Meanwhile, a generation of Teddys is enslaved to online, first-person shooter video games.
I shudder to think what will get done in our communities when the Teddys are forced out of dark bedrooms, forced to tear themselves away from the fantasylands of Destiny, Call of Duty and Halo.
Like it or not, today’s Teddys are tomorrow’s leaders. And they will soon realize that challenges in the real world are more formidable than threats posed by video aliens.
Perhaps they’ll surprise me and become tireless, self-sacrificing leaders like John Brandeburg.
Perhaps, but I’m not optimistic.
I am afraid the Teddys will be woefully unprepared to cope with real issues. I fear they won’t learn the people skills essential for strong leadership.
I’m anticipating a lot of sleepless nights when the John Brandeburgs disappear and the Teddys take charge.
Maybe I’ll be gone by that time. If not, I have a feeling I’ll be the one saying, “No sleep for me.”