Youth today stand together in twisted unity. Their morals, attitudes and aspirations are very similar. What are they? How did they come to be? And what does this generation mean for the present—and the near future?
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It is 8 a.m. and class begins. The idle chatter dampens with the arrival of the instructor. This is what happened at the beginning of class decades ago. But today, it is very different. Many students do not arrive on time or have forgotten such things as paper or pencils. Others hold open conversations while the teacher, often unsuccessfully, tries to gain control over the class.
Such is the scene that takes place each weekday in America. Whether the students are in kindergarten or finishing their last year of college, the scenario is quite similar. Are these children and young adults actually being prepared for the world ahead of them, ready to take on responsibility?
The education of youth, and the society around them, particularly in the Western World, has produced a new generation—one vastly different from those of past decades. As a generation that appears—at least in their own eyes—to have figured out all the issues and problems in the world, they are “self-aware” and believe that they can do whatever they please, as long as it “doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
Where did such thinking originate? How did the concepts of character, morality and sacrifice fade from this darkening generation? There is but one answer: They were essentially taught this way!
And amazingly, they have been taught with such lockstep conformity that by the time they are young adults, this outlook is second nature—their basic character. Of course, students are not actively taught to give themselves over to their baser instincts. However, it is what is not taught that allows such thinking to run rampant.
Rarely are children disciplined for their misconduct or even taught that such actions are wrong. Improper conduct is “winked at”—or even encouraged. Children are taught from a very young age that their feelings should be their moral compass. They are taught to reason their way through a situation with feelings—do what they feel is right.
Sexual limitations have also been lifted. Gone are the days when children were reprimanded for being too loud on field trips. Today, these same school trips are interrupted by children performing sexual acts at the back of the school bus. Because such is not disciplined, these same youth may turn to pornography to pay their way through college. Truly, all such acts are accepted and even considered healthy exploration of oneself.
A wise man, when speaking of the present world, said that there will exist a generation that sees itself as pure, yet is involved in all sorts of vile activities; a generation that curses its father and mother and whose speech is full of hateful things. Simply scanning the world around you quickly reveals that such a generation exists today.
The problem is not limited to youth; the deeper problem is that these corrupted youth are becoming adults. They are replacing the “old guard,” who based choices on character and integrity. Today, choices are based on situation ethics and acceptance of whatever “feels” right.
Can anything be done to turn the tide? Is there any hope left?
Yes! There is a solution. These children and young adults are not without hope. The conformity of corruption that exists can be reversed. But before we can look at a solution, and the hope it inspires, we must look at how far and to what degree this generation has slid.
People are influenced the most when they are young. This is why it is so important for parents to instill in children, at a very early age, the proper focus and framework on which to base right and wrong. Today, parents often fall short of this standard.
The next time you are walking through a supermarket, listen to parents talking to their children. Watch how they interact. Often, you will witness children commanding their parents. While this may not be obvious at first, you will notice that it is the child who is getting what he wants and the parent who is bowing to his whim.
For instance, a toddler may grab for cookies while his mother is pushing the cart down the supermarket isle. When his mother takes the cookies and puts them back on the shelf, the child bursts into a wild tantrum. Frustrated, the mother attempts to reason the child back to calmness, explaining that this is not the right environment to “express himself.”
This may be followed by a series of attempts to verbally placate the child, ultimately failing. Finally, out of embarrassment and desperation, those same cookies are placed back into the cart, quickly calming the child, teaching him a devastating lesson.
Instead of being told “no,” the child learns how to manipulate his parents to get what he wants—satisfying his wants or desires. He is shown to do, feel and think what is “right in his own eyes” (Prov. 12:15), with no regard for those around him.
(Interestingly, parents have fallen back on the modern idea of reasoning with their children. They assume that strict punishment harms the child’s self-esteem or development. Such reasoning has been proven unsound. Studies show that children are actually incapable of reasoning until they are age seven or eight.)
Even at a very early age, children are given more power than they can possibly understand. They are taught that what they feel is right is right! The seeds of self-importance are already deeply planted.
And these seeds are fertilized and nurtured when they enter the school system.
The last several decades have seen some major changes in how and what children are taught. There have even been extreme shifts in what the students are not taught!
Children are no longer taught that honesty and respect are essential attributes for success. In their place, strong-arming and intimidation are the standard. A recent incident reinforced this thinking: A high school teacher caught some of her students cheating on a test, and issued them a failing grade. Because the test constituted most of their final grade, the students failed the course and their parents were notified. This would have taught the students that cheating does not pay and that their actions carry serious consequences. But, in the end, a very different lesson was learned.
Upset by their children’s failing marks, some parents filed a lawsuit against the school board and teacher involved. They claimed that the failing mark, and the stigma involved, ruined their children’s chance at college and would ultimately adversely affect their lives. Amazingly, the school board buckled!
Not only were the failing marks overturned, but the teacher, who had lost all authority in her class, was forced to resign. While the parents hold the greater share of the blame, the weak school board ensured that these children would learn that consequences can be dictated (often with the help of legal counsel), regardless of the original action!
What sort of far-reaching lesson is this for children?
Once children are legally adults, schools no longer can hide behind the excuse of bad parenting—as was the case above. Most universities turn a blind eye to immoral conduct under their own roof. Others are more than happy to become active participants in such acts—sometimes with university funding.
Such was the case at Harvard University. At the request of some students, Harvard funded a student-run sex magazine. Their only stipulation (which was dictated after the magazine received national media attention) was that the publication could not contain pornographic images. Articles could be as illicit and graphic as desired, but no actual photographs of sexual acts could be included. The written word was considered to be protected by the constitution and could not be censored. Imagine the shock the founding fathers of the United States would feel if they knew that the constitution was being used to protect pornographers.
There are other times when the students are able to fund themselves. A new trend is emerging in schools around the country. Gone are the days when students took summer jobs or student loans to fund their education. Why “waste” all your time working when you can run adult websites from your dorm room?
Young women have found that they can make thousands of dollars by filming themselves in sexual acts, or by simply romping around their dorm room nude and then posting it on the Internet. When asked, many participants state that it is just another job to get them through school! With the tuition paid, many schools are noticeably missing from the debate.
Society has sunk so low that being in the porn industry is “just another job.”
But immoral sex is not the only result of this characterless generation. After college sporting events, fans turn to rioting and violence. Overturning cars, breaking windows and lighting fires are just a few of the post-game recreations. Absolute and uncontrolled violence reigns supreme, often with police unable to do anything other than wait until the unruly mob sobers. And these are the fans of the winning team!
From kindergarten to college, schools have dropped the ball in properly educating our children. While lessons about character are notably absent, schools actually teach students to be shallow. (To learn more about the state of today’s education system, you may read our trend report The Education Crisis.)
The product of such a system should come as no surprise.
Children who are taught that they are not responsible for their actions carry such lessons into adulthood. The news is filled with stories of ridiculous litigation: Fast food industry responsible for making one overweight or the tobacco industry responsible for people choosing to smoke. People do not want to take responsibility for their actions. It feels better to blame someone else—and all the more when courts reward you for your own lack of character. The tables have been completely turned!
But is this really surprising?
Children are taught by schools, parents and peers that it is much easier to blame someone else for their actions than to take responsibility for them. Such conduct would continue into adulthood. As the Bible states, what you are taught as a child will continue with you as an adult (Prov. 22:6). Are you beginning to see why the corrupt, yet uniform, education that children receive is completely destroying almost an entire generation?
Recently, there has been much news coverage about abuses committed by American and British soldiers against Iraqi prisoners. Such reports are often followed by these questions: “Why did this happen? How could anyone do this?”
The answer is simple. When you put young people (like those described above) in a situation where they have ultimate power, problems will ALWAYS ensue. How can a generation that knows no limits, sees no boundaries and yields to no rules of ethics be expected to make right, moral judgments?
One would not put just anyone in front of a ticking bomb in the hope they could defuse it. That person would have to be taught, and properly educated to understand how to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. This world has put an untrained generation in front of a ticking bomb—with no education, training or hope of defusing it.
And the resulting explosion is the product of such misguided thinking.
With example after example, there seems to be very little hope left. We have reached the time that God’s Word describes in the following way: “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 30:12). Other parts of this passage describe this generation in even more detail: “There is a generation that curses their father, and does not bless their mother…O how lofty [Hebrew: proud] are their eyes!…whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives…” (vs. 11, 13-14).
In 1920, famous lecturer Roger Babson said, “I looked to the source which determines future conditions. I have found that the source may be defined in terms of ‘righteousness.’ When 51 percent or more of the whole people are reasonably ‘righteous’ in their dealings with one another, we are heading into increasing prosperity. When 51 percent of the people become ‘unrighteous’ in their business dealings with their fellows, then we are headed for bad times…”
God states this in a much more succinct manner: “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach [wicked thing] to any people [nation]” (Prov. 14:34).
With over 80% of marriages today experiencing adultery (not to mention the sexual relationships existing between unmarried individuals), the 51% of “unrighteousness” that started the collapse of our modern society seems like a distant memory.
Years ago, the term “Generation X” was coined. Since then, there has been “Generation Y.” It seems fitting that youth today receive the label “Generation Z.” This is the alphabet’s last letter! The Bible shows that when a generation has become as corrupted as the youth of today, the country, empire or civilization of which it is part collapses!
There is nothing man can do to save himself from the slippery slope on which he does not realize he is standing. Living lives of self-indulgence and decadence, young adults today have no idea what it means to sacrifice. Very few have even imagined what it would be like to miss a meal.
What has this created? WEAKNESS!
So much pomp and circumstance will mean nothing when the world starts to collapse around them. They will not know how to deal with the coming adversity. God’s Word speaks of a time in the very near future when these attitudes and sins will “catch up” with the world.
We are at the end of 6,000 years during which God has allowed man to rule himself. Mankind has walked according to its feelings for all of that time. Its end, as we know it, is nearly here. God is going to punish the world for breaking the laws He set forth millennia ago.
How will a generation never punished by their parents handle being punished by their Creator? They will not handle it. The weakness that has developed in this generation will rear its ugly head with full force.
Again, there is hope. When a parent punishes a child, it is meant to help the child, to develop him into a better person. So it is with God. After correcting mankind, He will usher in an age of proper education—fully teaching the entire world how to live in happiness and joy.
What does this mean for you? Are you worried about the world around you? Do you feel that you are unable to help or affect it?
While the world is not going to change by the efforts of men, it will change soon, when Christ returns. Are you preparing for that return? You can, and in doing so, you will be given a chance to truly help large numbers of people. When Christ sets up His kingdom on earth, those He has trained will help Him.
This is your potential: You could serve with Christ, helping billions of people live a way of true happiness, peace and joy. Gone will be the time of corrupt, rotten attitudes, thoughts and desires. And you can be part of ushering in this age!
Learning about God’s purpose in our lives opens the door to change. People can change who they are and how they live. But many in this age will find it too difficult to overcome their societal “training,” ignoring the special training God is offering them!
Recognize such attitudes at work within yourself. Overcoming them will be difficult, but it is possible! Being reared and educated a certain way does not mean that you must remain the same. In fact, realize that, the younger you are, the less time has been spent ingraining such attitudes into your mind. However, you must choose to change! Your decision is more important and the reward greater than you yet know! (To learn more about your great human potential, read our book The Awesome Potential of Man.)