We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. But there were a couple of “side” experiences which left me quite disturbed. It wasn’t that I hadn’t encountered things like this before; it was the elevated level of blatant rudeness and disregard for others that accompanied the events. I’m talking about what I perceive in some young people today as a significant abandonment of simple respect for others and a dismissing of those who might dare to point out how their actions are inappropriate (I of course would never point out things like that…..ok, I would do that).
We have been riding our bikes from our house to Veterans Park for the fireworks display for almost 30 years. The city usually closes Riverside drive from 41st street north starting around 6 – 7pm till around 11pm to prevent a massive conflict of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. While riding home Thursday night, some young “whippersnapper” drove around the police barricades and was attempting to drive south on Riverside causing a significant amount of “near misses” as he wove between the pedestrians pushing baby strollers, pulling wagons, carrying their bag chairs and the occasional bicyclist. As I drove past him on my bike, his window was opened and I asked him if he was aware that the road was close to vehicular traffic to which he quipped “who died and made you sheriff?” and basically told me to ****off. I am still shocked that someone wasn’t hit and injured by his youthful disregard for life and authority.
Then Saturday morning Barbie and I were on a long tandem bike ride which among other places took us up Turkey Mountain. I noticed that someone had strung up a hammock between two light poles on either side of the HC ramp leading from the parking lot to the sidewalk of the trail. This meant that whether you were walking, biking or in a wheel chair, you would have had to go around and “jump” the curb to get out of the parking lot or walk to the other end of the parking lot to the other ramp. On our return trip through the area, I asked the person at the hammock if it was his, he replied “yes” and I followed by asking if he realized he was blocking the ramp for bicycles and handicapped people from getting onto the trail. He retorted “I’ll tell you what, if a handicapped person happens to drive up, I’ll move it”.
I know a lot of respectful and honorable “20 somethings” and I applaud your character. But it sure seems to me that the number of “I am my own god and I answer only to no one” young people out there is on the rise at epidemic levels. And I’m not sure the un-churched have a monopoly on this type of attitude. It used to be that being “old fashion” meant you respected boundaries in a dating relationship, guys opened doors for ladies (and yes most of the young girls acted like ladies), you said yes sir and yes ma’am and you respected the hoary head (meaning gray-headed to assume maturity and age). I suspect that for many young people today, “old fashion” simply means that you aren’t attired in the latest must have shirt, pants, shoes or cell phone.
It seems obvious and only reasonable to deduct that the destruction of the family by divorce lies at the heart of these descending and debase attitudes. Divorce is almost exclusively born out of either one or both parents showing deep disrespect for one another. With the home being the main classroom, it follows that fathers and/or mothers are teaching their kids to speak and act as they do. This means that in many homes, the inverse is actually taking place where there is a significant display of wrong attitudes among the adults leading to their fruit not falling far from that tree.
I’m not sure what we can do about this outside the church, but in the church we have a solid basis from which to exhort our young people to take their place both in the home in attitudes of respect towards their parents and elders as well as to fill their role spiritually towards the Father as he calls them to holiness. This should also translate into Godly accountability for fathers to speak honorably and respectfully to their wives and children with the expectation those wives and children should follow their example.