I remember when I was growing up. I was probably about 14 or 15 and was fascinated with people like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Always a lover of words, their lyrics moved me. Peace. Love. Social justice. All the great stuff that motivates a young soul. But I had missed the boat. Having been a little too young for things like Woodstock – and a father a lot too strict to have let me go anyway – left me frustrated. I wanted to be involved in something great. Something historic. Something bigger than me.
Failing that, I bopped along through high school, worked part time, played around with make up and used most of my money for clothes. Yes…I was deep.
I do remember, though, in high school a friend handing me a paper that read “Diary of an Unborn Child”. This child recounted her joy at being conceived, her excitement to one day meet her mom…and the day her mom ended her life through abortion. It was jarring and left me with a profound sadness and shock that such a thing could be legal. I tucked it away in my heart…and continued on my way playing with makeup and buying clothes.
Then I read the book that changed my life: Abortion:The Silent Holocaust by Fr. John Powell. My apathy crashed to the ground, my eyes were opened, and I couldn’t stay quiet anymore. Fr. Powell aptly pointed out that those who supported abortion believed in a different ethic…that there are lives not worth living. This ethic wasn’t new. It took hold in a big way in Nazi Germany.
I had found my cause.
Fast forwarding to today, we see a disturbing trend and division in America. Our youth are taking to the streets to protest perceived injustices by the police and the recent presidential election. It’s frightening and unsettling and it is easy to pass judgment. Understanding what may be at the heart of this phenomenon can help us respond to it more effectively…especially if any of those young rebels occupy a place in your heart or your home.
In my estimation they fall into five categories:
My guess is that many of these young rebels are impelled by goodness, by idealism, by a desire to be involved in something with meaning. Perhaps I project my own motivations, but what I see in the college students in my life is not generally very different than what was present in my own heart at that age.
They’re learning about the world. They’ve had professors who impressed them. They think they know everything. They want to make an impact. For some, becoming a vegan is enough. For others, taking to the streets to be heard fits the bill.
The problem though is what they’ve been exposed to in school and the media is not an accurate rendition of the facts. As we saw with the media in this recent election, truth has become subjective, and hidden agendas permeate even the most mundane of issues. But how can these kids know that? Their parents may try to point them in the right direction, but they’re in the psychological stage of development in which they’re seeking to individuate from their parents. They’re trying to form their own values. Hence, whatever they believe, it necessarily has to be different from their parents if they’re to be their own people. It’s a natural stage most go through. Add to that a pernicious trend in schools and among organizations like Planned Parenthood that have set themselves up as their protectors and their parents as their foes. It’s quite a murky mess for them to maneuver through.
Angry Kids Looking for an Outlet:
Anger is clearly front and center in these protest movements. Some bullied, abandoned, and latch key kids have found a place to unload…a subculture of acceptance in this common cause. Then there are the rich kids whose lives are devoid of meaning, whose parents’ pursuit of material wealth, and eschewing of traditional religious practice have left them in an empty existence with no transcending sense of significance or intrinsic value. They’re angry too. All of them are easy marks for those trolling to exploit their frustrations for nefarious purposes which these kids cannot even begin to fathom.
A Fatherless Generation Looking for Daddy:
The popularity among the youth of Bernie Sanders, an old affable curmudgeon from Brooklyn, was an astounding and unexpected phenomenon. Promises of free everything was compelling to a generation largely abandoned by any significant male figures and role models in their lives. Even many from intact homes are not exempt. The failing economy has taken dads away from home with long hours or second jobs. A computer culture has created an alternate reality through social media and pornography that’s ensnared many stressed and weakened dads. Their drive to be taken care fuels their discontent.
A good number of kids these days grew up and got a sticker for everything they did. They had kindergarten “graduation” parties, $5,000 dresses for first Holy Communion, and parents who defended even their most abhorrent behaviors against teachers who had the nerve to discipline them. It left them thinking the world truly revolved around them. Stunned by a dose of reality that society does not bend to their will (as everyone else has), they’ve taken to the streets demanding a legitimate election be overturned to suit their desires and make their worlds right again.
Paid Rabble Rousers:
It’s no secret that groups like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and the anti-Trump protesters are funded and driven by George Soros in an attempt to sow division and discord to up-end the American political system. Indications are that Planned Parenthood is also funding the mayhem. The media likes to portray such protests as grassroots movements spurred by shared outrage among its young participants. But the uniformity of professionally printed signs that appear across the nation within hours of “offending” events is the first giveaway that such is not the case. Many are there simply after answering Craig’s List ads, (after all, gainful employment is scarce thanks to the Obama economy).
I think we need to be careful as we render judgment as these protests continue to unfold. We need to pray for those involved and listen to the young people in our lives as they express their feelings, beliefs and fears. Though perhaps misinformed and misguided, their hearts are often in the right place. Work with that. Find what you have in common and affirm their goodness and good intentions even if you disagree.
When at an impasse, a good suggestion to those on both sides of the political spectrum is simply to pray for truth to prevail, whatever that turns out to be. Everyone should be able to agree to that point. After all, only the Truth will ultimately set us all free.
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