By Janet Ferguson
Our nation is in a moral crisis! We have a significant number of our young people prone to violence. Violence is eating away at families and society. Unless we address this crisis by acknowledging that there is a spiritual vacuum that exists in our nation's homes and schools, all the laws, regulations, restrictions, metal detectors, armed guards, and surveillance cameras will only be a temporary fix to a much more obvious problem.
Two destructive forces at work in our society today are passive-aggressive anger and sociopathic attitudes and behavior. Poor control of anger is a national epidemic.
Passive aggression is irrational and illogical. It is often used to get even and to upset parents or other authority figures. Authority includes the legal and moral forces that enable us to live in an orderly society with a reasonable chance for security and safety. Authority is vital for an orderly society. Robert Nisbet, wrote "The Decline of Authority" in the 90s. More than ever, what he has predicted has come to being. Fear is now epidemic for many Americans today.
Many young people are experiencing serious anxiety in today's society from dealing with no-fault divorce. Divorce comes sometimes when you least expect it and the heartbreak doesn't only impact the parents. It's the children who end up scared and uncertain as their family falls apart. A natural response to their anxiety is anger.
Another destructive force in our nation is leaving faith in God out of a lot of our homes and out of our public forums. You might call this "religious apartheid." What sort of message does this discrimination convey to our young people? It clearly conveys to them that the church and Christian leadership is irrelevant. Our young people see from this that faith in God is no longer relevant and something to be ashamed of. Sadly, teenagers have been "getting" this message loud and clear.
We removed the Ten Commandments from our schools in exchange for selfish indifference and seeking pleasure as the highest good and aim of human life. Our children are taught that they are nothing more than highly evolved amoebae, accidentally brought forth from a mud pool. Is it any wonder why so many of them see no value of life?
How do we reach the hearts of children and help them build moral character?
Parents have the greatest influence on children. Parents cannot leave the ethical education of their children to other people. One of parents' most important responsibilities is to teach young people to evaluate and judge for themselves what is right and wrong. They need to teach them respect for other people and for themselves and help them to take responsibility for their behavior. Faith-based family values are essential in teaching character.
Mature management of anger must be taught in the home. Tragically, this is seldom done today. The only hope for children is proper parenting.
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22
There are so many children starved for love and they are angry. This anger also leads to rebellion against authority. Saying we love them is not enough. Children need demonstrations of parents' love in order for them to believe that they really love them. Their feelings about themselves come mostly from their family members. What they see in parents' expressions, hear from the tone in their voices, and see from their actions tell them more than the words, "I love you." Young people need full acceptance and unconditional love. Without these they become angry.
The book, "How to Really Love Your Child," focuses on loving and training children. Ross Campbell emphasizes the importance of eye contact, physical contact and focused attention. He teaches that focused love is a way of impressing deeply how much we love them.
There are over 35 million teenagers in the United States. The world, and the devil are deceiving these young people! Business Week reported that a youth-oriented company boasted, "We are going to own this generation." Time Warner's subsidiary, MTV, has said that they already "own" this generation.
Our Christian values and heritage are becoming dim memories. The renewal of family values and a refocusing on Christian principles within our nation is vital for healing.
Our nation is at a crossroads! Our young people deserve the heritage of moral righteousness that was envisioned by early believers who came to this nation as pilgrims and embodied it in our Constitution.
Janet Ferguson is an Edinburg resident.