With my book on suffering and hardship coming out shortly, I want to spend some time on the blog dealing with this topic.People often say that things are far worse today than they were 50 years ago. Really? Is there empirical proof for this? Or are we just caught in the moment? One of the things that I have learned in my life, especially in the past year, is that ranking or rating hardship or suffering can be a difficult thing to do.
We Don't Live In A Panacea
Are things really worse than they were 50 years ago? Do we experience a greater evil or a more darker society than 50 years ago? Some look at our nation and say that we are falling apart and spiraling downhill in every way. Others say that we are the greatest country on the planet and we are blessed to live here.
I know we live in America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. Right? But, that doesn't make us immune from evil or difficulty. We all face hardship. And that's ok. Change your perspective on hardship. Because without difficulty you will never become as strong as you can be. I was thinking this week about all of the people who complain about how bad our culture is today. We know the stats and have seen the degradation of our society. There is always a large part of the country thinking negatively and critically about the condition of society. The spiraling changes are significant. Just look at these issues:
-moral vacuum (The growth in addictions and loss of principles has created a huge faulty moral compass in our society)
-media bias (Television, radio, print, digital, and internet revolution has become an opinion network and not a news source. Where we once had OP-EDS on page 9, we have an entire newspaper filled with opinion.)
-music and entertainment industry (What was once banned in music and entertainment is now common place. The lessening values in programming and loss of control by the industry is fueled by our sensual society.)
-athletic and sports industry (We have created icons of materialism and impossible role models that have given a false identity that most of us could never become.)
-modernist to post-modern worldview shift (America has moved from an enlightenment mind that had a humanist and moral template ready to solve human and world issues, to no universal code of right and wrong ways of guiding our society.)
But, is there really a difference between today's culture and 50 years ago? Here are headlines from the 1920’s to the 1960’s newspapers:
“Bank Manager Found Guilty of Embezzlement”
“Mass Killer Charged”
“20 Dead in Theatre Collapse”
“President Appoints First Jewish Justice to Court”
“Marijuana Crazed Youth Kills Fellow Students”
“New Housing Problems on Horizon”
“Crowd Vents Anger by Destroying property”
“Racial Riots Break Out in White Neighborhood”
“Teens Growing up too Quickly”
Society Or Mankind Better Or Worse?
It seems that we have just read these articles and seen these stories in the local newspaper in your town and on national news nightly! Are things really any different or worse? I don't think so. Evil may be more prevalent. But, certainly not more severe. Listen, human nature in the 1st century or the 21st century is still human nature. And our propensity for evil is as strong as ever. Sin will not let up. And the scriptures say it will increase. But, what is more important is that we see our desire for holiness increase.
The one common factor in every generation is the heart of mankind. Unless that changes, things will always be much the same. Maybe the question is not about the increase of hardship or evil in society. But, how I deal with the evil in society and how we approach the presence of evil in society. The one thing that should be more important to us is our spiritual formation. Spiritual maturity should be the focus of our lives and not trying to solve the question of whether there is more hardship in the world.
Principles And Practices
Every generation has dealt with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual perversion, self-harm and suicide, image identity, and growing racial tension. As Youth Leaders, it only defines the reason for the role we play in society. Never under-estimate the importance of Youth Leadership in the shaping and forming of the character of a society. Remember this very important lesson:
The principles of one generation will become the practices of the next!