Some messages take a long time to catch on — or perhaps they are things that need to be said at regular intervals, forever. Answers, for example, to the complaint, “I’m bored.”


More than two years ago New Zealand high school principal John Tapene (pictured) quoted one good answer to the teenage moan in his newsletter to the school community. He came across it somewhere and thought it worth repeating, the NZ Herald reports.


Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘What can we do, where can we go?’

My answer is this: 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.

About five months ago Mr Tapene started getting emails from North American and England thanking him for the passage. It had gone viral, apparently through a post on the Pierce Country Tribune website tracing the original source to Judge Phillip B Gilliam of Denver, Colorado, in a letter published on December 17, 1959.

Some 15,000 people shared the link on Facebook in recent months, attracting the attention of the Huffington Post, which further fuelled the viral process.

Evidently the judge’s message is far from dated.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet