I saw an 18 year old girl yesterday put air quotes on the word "love." She was asked by her friend if she loved her boyfriend. And she shrugged, saying, "I guess I 'love' him whatever that means" with the air quotes.
You see, she wasn't questioning her feelings for him. She was questioning the existence of love itself. And it just blew me away and I wondered what went wrong with this girl's life. She's sitting in the bleachers of her sister's softball game on a beautiful day with car keys dangling from her fingers and an IPhone in her palm and she absolutely seems hopeless.
And I don't think she's alone. I think cynicism, ironic detachment, and hopelessness are prevalent in children today. It's odd that a generation to whom has been given marvels of technological advancements, such widespread bitter unhappiness has resulted.
Plato said, "Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence." I think it's safe to say, we've done the opposite of that.
I am raising four girls and a boy. And few things are more paramount in my mind than having them avoid the culture of cynicism that oppresses so many around them. This ironic detachment from anything scares the heck out of me.
I want kids that stop and point to a sunset. I want them to be assured that their Mom and Dad love each other and love them. I want them to be thankful to God because I don't think you can be cynical and thankful at the same time. In short, I want to raise "Alleluia" kids in a "whatever" world.
I've never seen cynicism add to a person's happiness. I think cynicism can temporarily protect you from terrible grief but it prohibits actual joy.
In this Youtube world where every kid has a camera, so many kids act like the cameras are always rolling. They don't stand, they pose.
I've watched them dance at their school dances. They don't dance with abandon. They dance to make fun of dancing in front of their friends videotaping them. They dance "the robot" to make fun of people who danced the robot or they dance like people did in the music video of the song to make fun of the video.
They say they like a movie because it was "sooooo bad" or "It's awesome in a totally stupid way."
They're not living life, they're commenting on it.
This ironic detachment is the pose of the powerless. It's the shrug of surrender because it would look uncool to actually put your arms up in surrender, except if you were making fun of people surrendering.
I don't know why this has happened but I think it has something to do with parents working so hard to provide material goodsfor their children and neglecting to pass on the things that really matter, like instilling a sense of wonder in the world and gratitude to God.
Yup. God comes into this. How could He not?
Kids are coming into a materialistic culture that calls itself spiritual but not religious which is a nice way of saying that you can do whatever you want and feel good about it. But that kind of God isn't one that's involved in your life. The kind of God who cheers your every decision isn't a God who can call you out of yourself.
And what this bequeaths to our children is the logical extension of that kind of thinking which is that they are gods. And if everyone's a god there is no god. And in a godless world, you don't just get rid of all those cumbersome "thou shall nots." You get rid of love too. Love is airquoted and reclassified as a Darwinian urge to fool us into procreating. And the continuance of love is put to a cost/benefit analysis. If there's more pain associated with love at a particular moment, maybe it's time to go elsewhere where it'll feel better. But that's not love. That's self gratification.
Maybe the ability to watch whatever they want the instant they want or being able to listen to anything they want is perhaps a corrosive and terrible thing.
I don't know all the reasons why but it seems to me that the world is sick with cynicism. The antidote, I think, is gratitude.