As my wife and I were talking today about some of the news events we have read about recently, and being the parents of two girls growing up in a world very different from the one we grew up knowing, we found ourselves discussing this question: What is it that causes such anger that a 14 year old will kill one of his teachers? What is it that causes a 12 year old to take weapons into a school? What is it that causes another 14 year old to open fire at a school killing another teacher? What is it that causes two girls in Florida to continue to post horrible things about a girl, even after they knew their bullying brought her to such despair that she ended her life?
Why the anger? Why the hopelessness? Why the despair? Why the disregard for life? I could sit here and give a simplistic (and true) answer based upon my knowledge of Scripture that Sin is THE major problem. It is, there's no doubt about that, but I think to a culture and society that has bought all the refuse that postmodernism has shoved down it's throat, I dare not be so simplistic. So what is it in more complex form?
Here are just some bullet points of my thoughts:
1. We have created a society where things mean more than people. We prefer stuff over people.
2. Lack of respect for authority. I was taught to respect my elders and those who were older than me, just by virtue of the fact they had lived longer than me, deserved my respect. Our society and culture no longer respects those around them, and if you are in a position of authority, all the more reason NOT to be respected. You are to be despised.
3. Dovetailing on that thought is the cynicism that we have espoused in our society. If you hold a position of authority, then it must be assumed you have used some crooked means to gain that power and it is the responsibility, the duty of those under you to somehow expose you as a fraud and bring you down. Furthermore, it is likely that you have abused the power you possess and so you are not to be trusted.
4. We have created a society in which children are shoved off on someone else for hours in a day so both Mom and Dad can work to have the nicest house, the best toys, the latest gadgets and games all in a pursuit for more. When do you have enough? Well...never! Kids are letting themselves into their own houses with no supervision, or they're just hanging out on the street or at the park with their friends and no adult is affecting any kind of change in their lives for the better. And we wonder why they are wild?
5. Computer access - Kids have way too much unrestricted access, and parents if you don't know every site your child visits and every password for every site they go to, please confiscate the computer until you have all the information. Oh and that cell phone you bought them so you could check up on them, take it from them and check up on them, because calling them on it is not checking up on them; finding out what they are saying to their peers in their texts is. And, yes, you do have a right!
6. You are not their friend, you are their parent. There will come a day when they will (hopefully) be your friend, but when they are young, don't try to be the cool Mom or the cool Dad, just be the Mom and be the Dad because they need that more than they need you to be a friend who never tells them what they need to hear. In fact, they haven't quite learned the lesson yet that a true friend isn't the one who always tells them what they want to hear anyway. Proverbs says "faithful are the wounds of a friend."
7. Facebook...it may be fun, and where a third of the planet is, but if you as a parent don't know what they are doing on there, unplug the computer, remove it from your home while you're not there and don't let them on again until you are their Facebook friend. Oh and make sure they have not signed up under some other name that will escape your attention.
8. They have been told that as humans, we are just another part of the animal kingdom. Really? This is science at it's best, teaching a godless evolution that gives no purpose to our existence, no meaning to the lives of those around you and you are included in that hopeless, purposeless existence. So, following the absence of a Moral Lawgiver, it seems clear that even society's attempt to create some kind of moral code and rule of law is also nothing more than an establishment that must be eliminated.
These are just a few things that a pastor, husband and father has observed. I'm not an expert in any of those three categories and certainly I'm not an expert in much else. However, I know this, my wife and I love our daughters more than we can even say and want them to grow up to be women who love God and love people around them. We hope we can teach the lesson to love people and use things, not the opposite. The pitfalls are great for our girls and your sons and daughters, but I believe that we can help them navigate those pitfalls so as to never have to be the subject of the question, "What is it...?"
The writer of Ecclesiastes finished his thoughts with this summary of truth:
Eccl. 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.
Eccl. 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
It's my humble opinion that the only thing that is going to pull our society out of the hopelessness our youth find themselves growing up in is going to be a powerful move of God in our hearts.