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We can change the world. / Rearrange the world. — Graham Nash

Back in the day, it was an American commonplace that any kid could grow up to be president. Today people tell boys and girls they can grow up to be the next Steve Jobs.

We also tell our children they can grow up to change the world. It seems like a good thing to encourage them to dream big. What can go wrong?

Eventually these kids matriculate into the adult world, where they discover that the boss is not easily moved, nor social situations quickly altered, nor wars or diseases or other catastrophes suddenly vanquished. These newly minted citizens become cynical, sometimes giving up their dreams altogether and replacing them with mundane distractions.

Maybe the problem is that we give kids false hopes. But who wants to point out that almost nobody really ever does become president…

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