The Family That Falls Together

“As the family goes, so goes the nation,
and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

-Pope St. John Paul II

When we come into this world, we enter crying and naked. We enter crying as we become separated from the safe and comfortable warmth of our mother’s protection. We were once nuzzled in the warmth of that womb, where we are so utterly protected. We are naked, for we come into the world with nothing – no knowledge, no possessions, nothing. During our nine months in the womb and the several years afterward, we receive everything from our parents. All food, clothing, shelter, knowledge, values – everything comes from them. We are born into this world with a natural desire for these things. Our bodies need nourishment and protection, and our minds desire the same.

Traditionally, parents would serve an active role in this process. They would teach their children about whatever faith they professed and about the world. They instilled values and remained an active presence in the lives of their children. Today, we cannot expect for this to be the case. Families are broken. Parents are absent – if not physically, than at least emotionally. Parents have replaced interactive parenting methods with technology. When a child wants attention or to interact with parents or siblings, the immediate reaction has become to give them a phone or a tablet with games to play or videos to watch. Rather than children playing games with other people, they become closed in on themselves.

While it might initially seem to have little impact, as these children grow older, we can see some of these longterm effects. We see children and adolescents glued to their phones. They struggle to go a few minutes without a visual confirmation that the phone is indeed in their possession. They must look at their phones for the time, because they cannot seem to read the clock. Even more than these: adolescents do not have a proper understanding of authority. Because there is an absence of discipline in the home, they grow up seeing adults as just older peers. While previous generations of adolescents have had a disdain for authority, this current generation does not even recognize authority.

Because they have no notion of discipline from their parents, they have developed no form of discipline for themselves in their studies. They have lost all sense of a desire for knowledge and a sense of wonder. When students see a challenge before them, rather than pushing themselves to work through it, they stomp their feet and complain about how it’s too hard. They have an overwhelming sense of entitlement, which paralyzes them whenever they encounter something that does not come with immense ease. Students reject books for the sake of technology. School libraries remain ghost towns filled with the unencountered spirits of ages past trapped in the pages of unopened books. What is left to happen with these libraries but to throw out the books. The culture and knowledge of ages past has thus been rejected for the sake of the new and entertaining pages of websites that lead to new pages, which lead to new pages, which leads to the infinite nothingness of the ignorance of the uneducated Lords of the Interweb Realm.

I am scared for the future that lies ahead, with these students turning into responsible adults. These adolescents have been raised with no sense of responsibility or perseverance. What will happen when they have jobs that challenge them? How will businesses succeed with entitled 20-somethings, 30-somethings children. I look out at my students on a daily basis and wonder what the future holds for us. While some of these students are strong-willed and intelligent, many of them lack the strength to persevere in hardship. Many of these problems are surely based in the frailty of the family. The family is the fundamental building block of society. When the family falls, so does society. We must seek to strengthen the family once again, in order that all might persevere in strength, intelligence, and responsibility. This world that we desire must start with us. We cannot alter the hearts and minds of others. However, we can seek to inspire others by how we choose to live our own lives.

“If this country is ever demoralized,
it will come from trying to live without work.”

-Abraham Lincoln

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