Mark Reidy: We are sending our children to war without armour

13 Nov 2008

By therecord

Much has been said in the media recently about Generation Y, our current flock of young people, who seem to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, and statements such as the one below seem typical of the broader community attitude that depicts them as brash, selfish and impulsive.

Someone once wrote: “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.”  The interesting thing about this particular quote, however, is that the the words are those of the Greek poet, Hesiod, speaking somewhere about 700BC.
The point I want to make is that adolescence and the transition to adulthood has been and will always be a turbulent, chaotic and exciting phase of one’s life.
Although one cannot deny the current wild behaviour and excesses of Schoolies week or the increases in youth violence, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, self-harm and suicides, in order to best assist this group as they search for their place in the broader community, it is vital that we place these reported behaviours into a discernible context.
Today’s batch of youth is the most technologically savvy generation in all history. Never before has such advancement been so rapid and all consuming.
Even the Industrial Revolution, which began in the early 18th Century, did not have the sudden and immediate impact that the electronic/computer evolution has had on today’s youth. They have found themselves the masters of gadgetry and information of which the generations before them are largely ignorant. Consequently they find themselves wandering into uncharted terrain with neither the knowledge of history nor the wisdom of experience.
While we, as the generations before them, cannot be held responsible for the rapid progression of technology, we can and should, however, be held accountable, for the defenceless and vulnerable condition that we have allowed them to be in as they march headlong into this unexplored territory.
Over the past fifty years, society has allowed the sacred boundaries of childhood to be encroached upon by a steadily increasing number of adult concepts and ideas that have prematurely hijacked innocence under the guise of freedom.
We have stood back and allowed media and business interests to dictate new boundaries in behaviours, fashion, music, television and Internet, amongst many others, and have allowed these to mould our children. We have failed in our roles as guardians and many parents now find themselves watching helplessly as their children walk without the armour of Christian morality into enemy lands.
We are outraged, as we should be, when we read of child soldiers in faraway lands who are forced to fight battles with emotions and weaponry that they are too immature to handle, yet we have allowed our own children to journey into spiritual war zones in the same condition.
It is a fact of life that adolescence  always will be a time to challenge and push boundaries. In fact it is the sign of a healthy society that provides the boundaries that young people can explore and challenge as they search for their own identity.
Society becomes the cocoon for the developing species to struggle with and push against as it grows and then strengthens it wings before flight. But when the cocoon provides no resistance, then there is little chance that the emerging butterfly will ever attain the full beauty and potential for which it was created.