There may be a way for this generation to get out from under a chaotic social and economic legacy!
We should ask ourselves why the young largely do not hunger for what was? They are disillusioned! Many have cut themselves off from their respective moorings in a blind dash for change, but is it change only that they seek? I think that what they want is not much different from what the young have always wanted: to be loved; to be valued; to be accepted; to live in a world that is safe for them, and that makes room for their questions; their different perspectives; their ambition; their leadership; their testing of the old, and even their choices not to agree! They want the wisdom of the old to be added to their ambition; zeal and strength! They know that they must grow; lead; break ground, and build for the future.
I watched a film recently titled simply: The Hunger Games! What makes this satire so real is that it hyperbolizes the radical chasm that has grown between the young and old, and the have and have-nots. The story is much more than about a dog-eat-dog world. The point of the behavioral regression in the film is that it is brought on by a decadent pleasure-seeking older generation of ‘haves’. It is quite telling that one can hardly notice any children among the viewing rich. The children are instead portrayed as coming from outside as ‘have-nots’. However, the movie’s burning question is: will the young ‘have-nots’ be willing to sacrifice all their principles to be welcomed among the ‘haves’? Whatever the intent, this question proximates how the young view all of modern life – with suspicion. They do not agree that life as presented by the adults should be accepted without question. Refreshingly, the film brings out the power of honor over that of winning at all costs. It asks: does our current world not need this lesson? Has not winning become more important than how we win? Have we not all tacitly given our consent, and fed the ‘beast’?
What we would hope is that we can live together in a world that honors both the wisdom of the old and the ambition of the young. We should not wish for the tragedy of young people sacrificing their ambitions to serve outdated agendas, or of older and perhaps wiser people who are forgotten and ignored!
The macabre twist in the tale of the movie is that it takes William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” to another level of social deconstruction – this is a deeper dysfunction – this time, the rich and the elite ‘haves’ are the instigators of the killing. They have become the intentional feeders of it. They desire it. It satisfies their cravings.
The world may not be much different. The veneer of pretense wears thin, but we should ask: what will win in the end, or rather, who will? It is those who, despite all that they face, choose a different path. What if it were true that all that will be learnt by the modern person in the end is that love; satisfaction, joy or peace cannot be had at the expense of others, and that love may only be available to those who choose to put the welfare of others above their own. I believe that the trust of the young is either broken or made at this stone. They need to ask: can we depend on that value? How happy we should be that true love cannot be silenced by evil. Is it not true also that mothers; fathers; friends; carers everywhere, old and young who daily choose to sacrifice their own comforts for the blessing and enrichment of others are the proof of its power. What if these relationships that stir us to hope, are only a foreshadow of what is available on a much grander scale for each one in a personal relationship with God? What if you were thus stirred to desire him, and all you had to do was ask him to show himself, and that he would immediately respond to you in mercy and grace!
Is the film not unwittingly showing the immense power of love that wins in the end over all that is evil, corrupt, selfish, indulgent and decadent?
In the real world, the facts still give cause for hope in that in any given month there are four times more people asking the question on the internet, “How do I save someone” [30,000,000], than those who ask, “How do I commit suicide” [7,500,000][global stats at 12/04/16]? But, we should note that although our sociology has not totally fallen apart, a case can be easily made that as an older generation we have not done a good job of administering well to the assets given to us by our fathers. For instance, we are on the brink of a global economic fiasco the likes of which we may never recover from. There may be some hope of a protracted recovery ONLY IF there is a radical change in personal economic behavior and in strategy at the micro and macroeconomic level.
Perhaps there is still time to heed the warning of Paul, the Christian leader of 2000 years ago, who rightly says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let us please our neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself” [the letter to the Romans, chapter 15].