Due to circumstances largely beyond my control, I was recently compelled to spend a day at Magic Mountain, the Six Flags amusement park north of Los Angeles. The pain was mitigated by the presence of my family (most of them), plus a book to study during some of the waiting in line (working on written Chinese right now). While I must admit that several portions of the eight minutes and thirty-four seconds of total ride time during the lengthy day were enjoyable (to the extent that having internal organs shifted violently to new locations is enjoyable), it’s not my normal top choice for how to spend a day.
One of the small things that made the day more interesting was running into a group of four LDS teenagers next to us in line. These kids stood out in several ways relative to some of the other groups we had encountered. They were not making out or trying the latest “dirty dancing” moves while in line. They were not smoking, swearing or discussing objectional topics. They had not permanently disfigured themselves with Satanic graffiti on their skin. They were not dressed like sluts or gangsters. And then I overheard some interesting terms in their jovial conversation. The word “scriptures” made me suspect that they were LDS. Then the young man in the group mentioned a physical fitness chart – ah, a Boy Scout working on the physical fitness merit badge. I was almost sure they were LDS. Then came the clincher: “seminary.” I asked if they were LDS – of course they were. They were from San Diego. Very nice group of kids. Wish the park were full of such people!
In contrast, we were adversely affected by a group of about 10 teenagers, all very healthy, young, vivacious, and largely clean cut. Could have been from a church group, perhaps – one of them had on a shirt proclaiming faith in Christ. Nice shirt – and I complimented the young man on it. But there was something puzzling about this group of healthy, happy teenagers: they had all come to the handicapped line in the most popular ride, “X,” and they had handicapped passes allowing them to cut in front of many other people who had been waiting for about two hours to get on board this intense and largely senseless ride (just a hint there that it wasn’t my favorite). I wondered why the park employees were treating these healthy people as handicapped and giving them special privileges – privileges that added about 15 minutes to our wait in line, since our entry queue was the one being held up for these kids to board.
On my way out, I asked a park official at Guest Relations and learned that it’s park policy not to question anyone’s claim to being handicapped. Anybody who comes to their office and asks for a handicapped pass is given one. Those kids knew about that politically correct loophole and had obviously chosen to exploit it en masse. Morally handicapped, clearly, but I doubt that they had any other legitimate claim to special treatment. Sure, I guess we are all handicapped in some way, but these kids were cheating. Quite disappointing. I sure hope none of them were LDS.
As an adult, I notice that I care more than ever about the behavior of teenagers. They are the future of our society. How pleased I was to encounter wholesome LDS youth who appeared to be living their religion and could shine as examples of decent peope. How disappointed I was to see a group of future businessmen ready to follow the paths of Enron executives.
LDS youth, your example mattters. And to those of you who are living your religion, you are making a difference. And the world needs you!