Friday, November 19, 2010

"Time to confront the deadliest demon..."

That title above is partly taken from an article that started me thinking. It is about youth suicide. According to the article, up to five Australian children attempt it every day. I don't know what that figure would be for the U.S, Canada, Britain, but it might be just as bad. And it's a demon, alright. It's pure horror. The writer says we must confront it, but his suggestion is that schools need to deal with it, through their curriculum.
He's right to be concerned, but it seems to me the problem goes back deeper than he believes and so does what should be done about it. The answer is not just a matter of teaching students, or children and youth generally, to rationalize problems and build defences against them. They need to be shown a different world view.
The clever modern thinkers who've had control of schooling for some years wanted to get God out of schools. We've all heard the thing about 'religion being a crutch', or a residual superstition from the past, and so forth. Not so clever, actually, because when people do not have any idea of a personal God to turn to, they have no hope in this universe except what they can find from themselves or other mere human beings.
The clever secular thinker talks about coming to terms with things, or playing the hand you're dealt, or making the best of it, and so on. My question: I've played poker for matchsticks, and I know, you can get dealt a hand that is no use at all. How do you play that? Shocking things can happen, that are quite beyond your control. Whether they happen to me or to people I care about, or complete strangers, how do you come to terms with the fact that life is just like that?
Not good enough. If live is worth going on with, there has to be more to hope for.
Someone once said that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. That person knew just what he was saying. Human efforts and invention are not enough to keep up hope. We all die in the body sometime, some people too soon and very tragically. This life is not enough. I need to hope for and believe in something more. I need God. I have to know that He's there, and that He cares. He might not do just what I want, or give me just what I want, but ultimaletly, He's there and in the end He makes it right - for those who believe and turn to Him.
That is what young children and youth need to know. They need to understand they are not left to cope with all the rotten and tragic, cruel things that life can drop on them. God is there. They need to know that - and to know about God, so they don't get to thinking He's like the insurance company, you only call if you've got an emergency. Or the fire brigade - You don't have to talk to Him unless a crisis comes up. Stay in touch, daily.
That is where hope lies. I was not a Christian until just before I turned 25. In that first quarter century of life I heard it all about learning to cope, to accept things, to make the best of it, look on the bright side, yakkety yak. It wasn't enough. There was to much beyond control that could turn things bad.
We need to tell people that they don't need to despair because God is right beside them and has things under control. Life will have bad times but there is always hope, and always a direction if you look to God for it.
The world is not all that there is - and that's just as well!
That's what we need to tell kids, but the clever people in charge don't want that at all.
It is as if in claiming to try and help, they are cutting off the only real help there is. Wolves in sheeps' clothing. Or the blind leading the blind.
Just recently one of our sons told us he was grateful we brought him up to know the Lord. He can see what happens when people are not given that hope.
I'm grateful that the Holy Spirit reached out to me and made me see what I had to. There is no hope or real help anywhere except in God.
Kids need to know that.
And no-one should be able to keep the message from them.

2 comments:

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

You have touched on a subject that is very close to me here Andrew, as I am a volunteer chaplain, with the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team. We patrol that place and work to prevent people who from attempting suicide. Enter Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team into Google and you can read all about us.

We have all witnessed the breakup of a society that now worships at the altar of the megastore ‘churches’. They receive their ‘bread of Life’, the goods the majority worship from the ‘altars of the shelves’, often on their knees, and then go back into and down the aisle and then out into the world to ‘love and serve’ the megastore, only pausing to put their money into the ‘collection’ of the till.

Our society appears to be addicted to consumption, what it is seems to matter little. A friend and colleague wrote to me recently about one such individual “the only thing that brought her any joy was purchasing things. But as we know, it's like any drug; the high is brief and all you end up with is a bunch of stuff you don't really care about”.

Quite, when the high is over, what next? Actually that’s easy; ever more purchasing, ever more debt, ever more “me, me, me”, and then what? There is just an empty shell of an existence, and the dawning realisation as a young person looks around them that this is their future. “Work hard, struggle, and you too can achieve societies dream” they are told. But it is not easy to fool the young, they are, as yet, uncorrupted by consumerism, they see the truth of their future, don’t like what they see and yet cannot see any way out of it.

So they attempt suicide.

At present it is -5 degrees, dark and snowing at Beachy Head and my colleagues will be patrolling the 4 miles of cliffs. They are all Christians which says it all Andrew. HE is out there looking for those that are hurting.

Andrew Clarke said...

Brilliant message, Peter. It's good to hear from you. And in today's paper, a student from an Australian state high school laments that the education he received does not prepare him for life because it does not deal with the deep questions of life, it only teaches certain skills and knowledge for managing life, which is not the same as seeing any real purpose to it.