From ancient times and now among us still, youth has been regarded by philosophy, ethics, art and common sense as a time ripe for experimentation and excess, a nearly universal version of the Amish Rumspringa. It has allowed youth the freedom to give into the desires of the heart without as many consequences or complications as adult indulgences might possess. Education has encouraged rebellion against the status quo of politics, religion, morality, and law. Youth have been indulged and allowed to dictate what it is they will study and how they will learn it. Teaching them to think has come to be code for instilling liberal values that challenge what they learned from their parents and their pastors. They were allowed some protection of law against their acts (except those so egregious that their minor status could not be allowed to condition their legal proceedings or its outcome).
We have seen it at work in various places but no one can deny that behind the recent resignations of the President and Chancellor of Mizzou was the hubris and arrogance of youth as much as righteous indignation over perceived injustice. Privileged upbringing has only fueled the spokesmen who undertook a public hunger strike in pursuit of his cause. For all their strident tone and insistent voices, the actual facts are harder to substantiate. In one of the more bizarre aspects of the story a part-time faculty member called for some muscle to remove a reporter -- this from a teacher whose serious “Current research projects involve ’50 Shades of Grey’ readers, the
impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity
and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television
programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.”
I wish I knew what to do with the mess that is before us. We have a culture of liberalism that exalts the untried new as if it were automatically better than anything previous. We have universities and colleges that substitute the pursuit of trend, whim, fad, and social media for education and learning. We have the politically correct who police thoughts, words, and ideas considered so dangerous they must not be allowed (even though only a few years ago they were normative for us). We have schools where religion (mostly the Christian kind) is forbidden but boys may use girls restrooms and locker rooms, classes may teach how to use birth control devices, and everyone passes with flying colors no matter how little work they do or how little they master the subject material at hand.
But there is one thing I can say. The poisoned fruit of indulging our youth is all around us. We are at least partially to blame for encouraging them to let their minds be governed by their desires, to dress provocatively even at a young age, to feel entitled to things they were supposed to work for, and to offend the very people and institutions that have coddled them. We owe them more than what we have given them. Instead of contenting them with expensive technology, we should be encouraging them to engage the world around them thoughtfully and responsibly. Instead of presuming that youth must be governed by whim and desire, we should be teaching the value of self-control and the wisdom of modesty and humility. No one wants or expects youth to look or act like old age but neither should youth be encouraged to believe they are automatically intellectually, morally, and creatively superior to their elders. The church is one arena where we do no one any favors by accepting youth's rebellion or rejection as normative or salutary yet we continue to design programs that entertain rather than educate, that distract them rather than teach them to deliberate, and that substitute subjective truth for the Word of the Lord that endures forever.
Update -- Liberal iconic figure Alan Dershowitz is also complaining about the campus outrage. Read him here. . .
In these and other instances, one is struck by how quickly and
thoroughly university leaders have capitulated. The institutions don't
defend themselves. The grown-ups in charge offer no resistance. Quite
the contrary, they accommodate and apologize. Last points out that last
year we saw a preview of this spirit of capitulation. University of
Virginia was rocked by a Rolling Stone story about a fraternity gang
rape. It turned out to be false, but university administrators continued
to recommit themselves to the cause. Read more here. . .