Wednesday 2 April 2014

The Future We Build Through Our Children

It seems all that is harmful is exalted while good is belittled. Macho, philandering movie characters have become heroes for males, while scantily-clad pop-stars flying the flag of extreme secular feminism are icons for females. Do these models not erode family life, being about competing rather than cooperating?

Raising a family today seems harder than ever. Many parents –including Catholic parents– struggle to form their children well and be vigilant over their development. Often, the 'pearls of wisdom' children get are not words of wisdom but instructions for destruction. From a young age children hear (at least I know I and my friends heard), "If someone hits you, hit them back twice as hard” or “get them when they're alone"; they have violent video games bought for them or are allowed to watch violence on TV; they are dressed up to look like mini adults ready for a night on the town (with all that goes with a night on the town: little girls wear make-up, short skirts; while little boys model their dad's best 'pulling' gear). These cannot build a peaceful, faithful society. We are teaching boys that being tough, hard, competitive, and “No.1” is what makes a man, whereas it is competition in cooperation, toughness of the mind and simple confidence rather than arrogance that makes the man. We are teaching girls that equality with men is to be as licentious and career minded as the ‘macho male’, thereby producing women who display their physical sexuality rather than their femininity and who seek career progression over spousal relationship and family life.

Teenagers are told, "Study hard so you can find employment which pays well and provides a big house, good holidays and a top-of-the-range car" –which teaches them that it is material gains that count (family life needs but enough to get by comfortably but not the best of everything). Meanwhile, young children and teenagers are surrounded by adults lamenting unmade millions or taxes paid and who boast about alcohol fuelled exploits in humorous, exciting terms.

We surround children and ourselves with so many false ideals which are incongruent with a peaceful, stable world and contented lifestyle and then ask why the streets aren't safe at night; why people feel unvalued in relationships and why spouses and children are abandoned.

It seems to me that if we are to change the world for the better, it must begin in individual families; it must begin with you and with me. Even if we are single we must take our share of responsibility for shaping society; we must become the kind of men and women we would like our children to become and to meet. How are we to achieve this? As St. Thomas Aquinas would put it, we must "Will it"; we must put our will into action and not just dream of it or wish for it or pray for it. As the song goes, “Wishing, and hoping, and thinking, and praying; planning and dreaming…” don’t do it; we have to put our will into action. We must pray as though everything depended upon God, and work as though it all depended upon us… 

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