Word Magazine January 1980 Page 12
CHILDREN IN AN EVER-CHANGING SOCIETY
By Father Joseph Shaheen
“As I behold the sea of life surging high with the tempest of temptations, I set my course toward Thy tranquil haven and cry aloud to Thee: lead thou my life forth from corruption, O Most Merciful One.” (Heirmos — Ode 6)
These words from the Canon of the Dead, in the Orthodox Funeral Service, describe very well the exceptional dilemma faced by the youth of today.
Ah, for the peaceful, pastoral, uncluttered, unrushed, unsophisticated, uncomplicated days of the past. The day when father and son walked together at the plow and prayed their labor would produce a bountiful crop, when mother and daughter sat and ground the grain to make the bread needed to sustain life. All the labours of man that were performed, were to the fulfillment of God’s command “be fruitful and multiply.”
It was simple, no hang-ups, no frustrations . . . work just to survive. No Vogue, no Glamour, no Better Homes and Gardens, no Redbook, no Cosmopolitan. Just survival. There was no concern with what shall we wear? What shall we eat? The concern was, shall we eat? Mankind was concerned with just existing. Everyone had a role, a responsibility, like the meshed wheel. All the links were necessary or the wheel would not function.
Somewhere along the way, from that day until now, many changes have taken place. Who thinks about the labour required to provide a loaf of bread? Who concerns himself with the needs of others? How many people have been so rudely awakened as of late when it was discovered that maybe our big beautiful cars could be the dinosaurs of a future generation?
A few years ago our forefathers made a tremendous journey from a land across the sea, some never returned to the place of their birth. Today some people have probably traveled more miles accumulatively than our forefathers did when they established themselves here on these shores.
Our parents, as children, looked upon the world as an adventure and they set goals, not just for themselves, but for their posterity. To have land, to own a business, to succeed and to generate success, these were their goals. They rebelled against the past and voiced their desire for progress. Surely, their parents did not always accept their actions. Every parent thinks twice before sending his child to face the unknown. And nearly all of them would want some reassurance regarding the continued well-being of their children.
But who can keep pace with the ever-changing life styles? By the time we accept one idea or fashion, it has already become an antique. Before we can adjust to one world crisis, we are faced with yet at least three more. When a glimpse of calm appears on the horizon, it is followed by unending clouds of gloom and despair.
The children of today are being continually traumatized: gas shortages; Skylab is falling; boat people; unrest; civil war; lack of direction from the leaders of the world; and constantly they are asked to choose between the best of evils. . . so, why not turn the music up louder? Make the beat a bit heavier. Let’s drown out Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley and all the bad news. Let’s listen to the beat. It has a primitive sound. . . the roar of the ocean, the beat of the heart . . . an escape. What is this changing society doing to the youth of today? It is making them run toward values . . . but often the values they are running towards are not of their own choosing. Those who seek material gain in the world are calling the shots. They are establishing the values. It is a materialistic world that is attempting to lay claim to the children of today. While, on the other hand, the youth have also the very simple goals that satisfied their parents, available to them. Which will they choose?
The time is at hand when parents and the Church should replace the “social materialistic jungle” in establishing the values of the children of the future. As much as the parents fear the uncertainty of the world, fear it for the sake of their children, the children are equally afraid. They show it by looking for a lifestyle they can call exclusively their own. As much as they all want to be different, they all want to be alike. They are all looking for a “tranquil haven.”
The time has come to guide them toward the tranquil haven. The Church must redouble its energy and its resources. It is the time to preach Jesus Christ, love for fellow man, who is my neighbor! The world is changing so quickly . . . only Jesus Christ and His message remain the same . . . constant and unchanging. “Thou shalt not kill” means the same, be the weapon stones or spears, bullets or bombs. The time is at hand for the Church, the people of God, to set the vogue, not the government or business or the world of mass communications. It is time we return to the family as the source of information, instruction and inspiration. Let’s replace the altars of the stereos and television with the Altar of Christ. Let’s replace the hymns of immorality and obscenity with glorious hymns of praise to Almighty God. Let us give our children some stability, some foundation, something of lasting value in this ever-changing world, through the Church. Let us reset their courses toward the tranquil haven so we might cry aloud . . .
“Lead thou my life forth from corruption, O Most Merciful One, lead us to Thy Glory, for it is now and ever and unto ages of ages. . . Amen!”
Father Joseph is pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Spiritual Advisor to Can/Am SOYO.