Wise Words from a Judge in New Zealand – for Young People and Adults

I shake my head in disbelief at some of the things judges say … but this hit the mark:

Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth.

“Always we hear the cry from teenagers ‘What can we do, where can we go?’
… My answer is, “Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book.”

“Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.”

“In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you…”

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5 replies »

  1. Interesting! While I agree with most part of the ‘judegment’ but I feel this varies from culture to culture and from one country to another. Some developed countries might have all the facilities to provide, while developing countries may feel their social duty to continue to work in the direction of providing such facilities.
    Culturally, Asian kids upbringing is also different from Western upbringing 🙂

  2. Such a good blog. Thanks for your energy and commitment.

    I trust that you will share with me a willingness to correct a firestorm of injustice. My mother was the author of “Letter to a Teenager” incorrectly attributed to Judge Philip Gilliam, a good man, who has acknowledge he wasn’t the author and “never pretended to be.” It is so unfair to my mother, who has since passed. My sisters and I would be deeply grateful if she would receive the recognition she deserved.

    I have substantial documentation.

    I have copies of two letters, one from The Reader’s Digest of September 15, 1958 and the second from Abigail Van Buren dated January 16, 1978 acknowledging her authorship. I would post copies if I knew how.

    Abby says in the letter “Dear Doris: You, dear, modest, generous lady. I am returning all the documentation per your request. As I recall, a judge in Denver, Judge Gilliam (or something like that) took credit for the letter you wrote. And several other had the nerve to claim authorship.”

    The Reader’s Digest letter says, in part: “We were delighted to have your letter and to learn that you are the author of ‘letter to a Teen-Ager,’ which we reprinted in our August [1958] issue. Our payment check for $80.00 is enclosed… You may be interested to know that since your letter appeared in the Digest it has received even wider circulation, for we are now receiving reprints from all over the country.”

    In her correction piece, Inez Robb, whose syndicated column appeared in 140 papers, wrote: “Since about 50 per cent of my correspondents attributed the letter to Philip B Gilliam, the widely-know judge of Denver’s Juvenile Court. I telephoned to ask him when he had first written it.
    ” ‘But I am not the author, I didn’t originate it,’ Judge Gilliam said. “I don’t know who wrote it. As best I can remember, I received an anonymous letter from an irate parent seven or eight years ago. He or she laid down the platform that has since become known as ‘Letter To A Teen-ager.’ ”
    ” ‘A few months after I received it I was speaking at Boys’ Ranch in Amarillo, Texas,’ Judge Gilliam continued. ‘I used the advice in the talk and the Boys’ Ranch publication reprinted it, and credited it to me.”
    Well, if Judge Gilliam is not the author of “Letter To A Teen-ager,” who is?
    Stop the press! The mailman has just delivered a delightful letter from Mrs. Doris Burvill (sic.) of Hibbing, Minn., who says she wrote the famous letter “several years ago after a near student riot in Hibbing, following a basketball game.”
    “It was first published in the Hibbing Daily Tribune” the author says “And was picked up by The Readers Digest.”
    Mrs. Burville: Front and center, and take a bow!”

    Here are several links to Abby’s columns where she corrects the false attribution to the Judge. Her column is syndicated and you will find that article in many newspapers carrying Dear Abby.

    From the Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-10-29/news/9510290386_1_dear-abby-open-letter-sick

    The Bryan Times, July 2, 1985. (go to page 3 upper right) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=NtGNdKbuCngC&dat=19850702&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

    Inez Robb, Lewiston Evening Journal, March 26, 1963 (jump to page three) http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1913&dat=19630326&id=f7QgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vmkFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2309,2430303

    Thanks for your consideration.

  3. I often go back and read this article and never has it rang more true than right now, todays young people are becoming unable to communicate with people. Electronics that deliver now, now oh and now are turning kids into people who believe that they are entitled to everything they want and right now. They can turn in most electronics to get an immediate answer and if it’s not the one that they want, they just check another website! Nothing is real or true, it is how they want it to be and they never ever have to hear the word No! Ever!! Please tell me if our kids cannot handle hearing No bc the world I live in says No, No and most days Hell No and at last in the words of Tyler Perry’s Madea character “ Oh Hell to the No!”, I ask you how do they ever live in a world that needs them to contribute to, not take, take and Take!! How do they heal and love and even laugh?? I’m so sad that today’s kids are becoming entitled robots with wishbones instead of backbones!! Well done Doris!!!