Within my parish boundaries this past week, a grave, sexual evil happened to young children by young children. It has bothered me for days. Induced upon each other by each other, children today are destroying their bodies and their souls in the name of pop culture; and, they are doing it at the feet of their selfish parents.
It makes me queasy when I think about the mass amount of children growing up with consciences formed by evil (see the latest MTV Music Award's Miley Cyrus' performance with Robin Thicke), making it near impossible to know the difference between right and wrong. Not to sound desperate or drastic, but, our culture has lost its morality.
A person raised in a culture with no morality ends up in bondage to sin and evil. The person does not know he or she is in bondage; nor, quite probably, will ever know. Coffee shops and shopping malls do not have any sign of the religious. Music and television artists, writers, and producers who are responsible for forming peoples' consciences for the good are greatly lacking in their responsibility. The idea of God, much less God himself, cannot be found in the exterior of our culture today. Unfortunately, unless people search out the rooms behind closed doors where any form of prayer, spiritual activity, and / or worship is found; they are hard-pressed to find freedom from that which clings to them -- a spiritual ineptitude, a lack in that which most matters.
I understand that the parents of today are the most uncatechized generation in the history of the Church. I also understand that much of their irresponsibility in spirituality or religiosity is not their fault. They were never taught it. You cannot know what you were never taught.
However, when I witness the souls of so many children falling into destruction by the selfish actions of their parents, parents who are the adults and caretakers of these children, I am rightly angered at them.
Parents and adults of today, life is not about you. It is no longer about you. It is about your children; it is about the youth of today. The material world has a lot of enticement and anyone can easily get caught up in it. However, when we are spending money for comfort and ignoring our responsibility to form children who are not self-centered and not caught up in the culture, a culture of destruction I might add, then we are making an eternal choice that will affect them for the rest of their lives, both here and in the life to come. We are making the wrong eternal choice.
C. S. Lewis once said, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet ... only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."
These are our children. They are our future. We are responsible for them. I am tired and sad of hearing of the pain and destruction in so many lives around me. Please, this Advent and Christmas season, gift me with a Christmas present. Just one. I ask that you spend this year trying to be a better person, caring for others more than yourself, and ridding yourself of this "me"-ism. Genuinely search out God. Why? You, and all those in your life, deserve it. You are God's creation; and, He longs for you to find Him, know Him, and love Him.
There are definitely some pluses to getting older. One of them is the ability to see things in the 'long haul'. We no longer do that, you know. See things - as they really are - and as they most likely will become if we continue as WE are.
For instance, the way we see 'Choices'.
I have come to see how much our choices matter. No, not the big choices. People today are paralyzed when making the 'big choices' - marriage, children, jobs, etc. And so they make NO choices. Young people seem to think that that keeps them safe from choosing badly. Instead, it keeps them in perpetual childhood - making no choices at all and therefore letting life (instead of themselves) choose for them. I see no-longer-young-people all the time - they have never chosen a spouse for fear of getting a bad one. They have never chosen children - for fear that it might be 'difficult'. They have never chosen 'change' - for fear that it might be, well, different from what they are 'used to'. It's sad to see actually, because you know that, inevitably, they will wake up one day and realize that it is too late to live a young person's life - when you have already gotten old.
And so I am not talking about the big choices. I am talking about the little ones. Say it's a Tuesday night after work. You have a choice. You can go home and 'veg out' due to your very hard day - or you can do something. Anything.
People who came before us, before the intoxicating paralyzers commonly known as television and computer, did A LOT after work each day. Heck, slaves were driven sometimes up to 14 hours a day - and yet still managed to come back to their shacks at night and work on things to improve their own lives. They knew it was up to them to choose. It was one of the only choices they had - and so they didn't waste it.
Instead, we veg. But we forget that 'vegging' is..... choosing.
The same with ourselves. We seem to think today that we are just the way we are - and the world must accept it. And so we put up with getting angry, because, well - there's something to get angry about. Or we put up with being impatient, because, well - there's something to be impatient about. Or we put up with being selfish because, well, aren't WE the one who really matters?
The answer is - no.
We ALL matter. And that's why we have a choice. We can CHOOSE to treat others like they do not matter as much as we do - or we can CHOOSE to realize we are just as imperfect as they and that we are all in this together.
Now that I am older, it is clear to see that what you choose slowly becomes what you are. We think that 'this one time' won't matter - but it does. Because each time changes us. Those who choose to let themselves get angry easily become, as they get older, angrier and angrier until they personify anger. Those who choose to let themselves be selfish, become, as they get older, more and more self absorbed until they personify selfishness. And those who choose to just be lazy since they are so, so tired, become, as they get older - a life with a giant period in the middle - when it should have had a comma. Or in other words, they become a dead end - where there should have been a freeway - and a brightly lit one, at that.
They may not notice it when they are young and making these choices - but it sure becomes clear as they develop into that actual choice - while aging. And when they get into their 40's and 50's is when you hear people begin to - like they are waking up to a bad dream - express shock at the 'situation' they have gotten themselves into. They don't seem to get it that the 'situation' is nothing other than the logical outcome of a lifetime of choosing.
The choice I see making me craziest right now is the one to veg, to do nothing, to waste time with toys and gimmicks that a child should play with. We are becoming a nation of grown up children - who have not had the guts to grow up! Choosing takes guts, and it takes a backbone. We have forgotten that we MAKE the choices we live with. Our spouse is only as bad as we make them by putting ourselves first. Our children are the same. And sometimes, bad things happen. But guess what? As prior generations knew, that's when you get to the see the Glory of God at work in your life - and that's when you deepen into a person of fortitude, strength and character. Until then; you're as shallow as the technological wavelengths making up the faces on your tv and computer screen. And until then - you don't know what it is - to really live.
Yes, you can choose comfort and caution all your life; and at the end of it, you will have the substance and character of pretty much a marshmallow. Wouldn't you want to choose something better than that?
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.