October 2005 - Volume 10, Issue 3
Last month, a twenty-one year old man from California by the name of Ben Shapiro entered the Harvard University School of Law. He also is an author. This remarkable young man has written a book entitled The Porn Generation. In his writings, he states that his is the first generation raised on pornography. One ought not to be put off by the title of this work. Mr. Shapiro, deeply rooted in his Orthodox Jewish upbringing, laments the coercive sexual pressures with which his generation has been inundated and anguishes over the price to be paid because of it. Unfortunately, this bitter harvest is reaped not only by the individuals of his generation but also by their families.
Given the sentiments revealed in this book, it might seem odd to turn one's attention to later life. Seniors living in adult communities commonly display in their homes pictures of their families; they love to talk about the grandchildren, discuss the latest ailments inflicting them or their friends, plan trips, andYworry. Theirs is the generation that grew up in a conservative, post-war, success oriented environment that sought to marry, to raise families, and to provide their children with all the advantages that they could afford. Sadly, they are also the generation that had to face the epidemic of their children's failed marriages, cohabitations, and single-parenting. This is the generation of parents who had to raise their children and then had to raise their children's children. They are counted on to provide financial aid to their adult-aged children and often allow them to move back home. What happened? How come there are so many early middle-aged men and women who did not mature successfully or simply failed to cope with the real world?
I do not intend to indulge in the blame game or assert that the entire generation is mired in this dilemma. Many of these young people had to face tragedies or unforeseen and undeserved difficulties that occasioned a temporary need. The case for many others is perplexing. Often, these troubled men and women were raised by wonderful parents with very sound moral values. Approaching a response to the question of what occurred to this lost generation, I would suggest an assay of the cultural trends emerging and gaining dominance during these young people's formative years. The well-documented events of the 1960s and the 1970s would cast a shadow over the integrity and credibility of the institutions that formed the solid foundation of the mores of earlier years. Families faced a growing challenge of competence in existing as a cohesive unit and of adopting and adhering to the values of the past. When children question the relevance of the model offered by their parents for spiritual, intellectual, and emotional growth, they are forced to fashion their futures sailing uncharted and perilous waters. Lacking strong moral values, they plod through a quagmire of lifestyle options that they are ill-prepared to view discriminately. In addition, the parents have to cope with the fact that all they wanted to convey of true value and importance is being rejected. The resulting tensions make the home a potential battleground.
Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They are not like aches or wounds; they are more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material.
- F.Scott Fitzgerald
The deification of the ego, immediate self-gratification, career above all, for better or else relationships, and secularism are the newborn kings. Faith, perseverance, self-discipline, and sacrifice are not in fashion. These requisites-the material that allows civilization to flourish-need to be restored.
Voices coinciding with that of Ben Shapiro might represent the vanguard of a cultural reformation. Ben and his generation have got to get it right. Because, to a large extent, the married, secure grandparents of the past will be gone and replaced by the still needy and now aged inhabitants of the lost generation. A hopeful note was sounded recently by an engaged daughter of a friend of mine to her fiancée regarding their approaching marriage.
She stated, "Marriage is a sacrament. This is important. This is holy." One can hope that this affirmation of married life and family upbringing is not anecdotal, but a sign of real change. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Spirituality for Today contents copyright 1996-2020 Clemons Productions Inc. and the Diocese of Bridgeport unless otherwise noted