“Young people have been told God is nonsense, their country is essentially evil, their past is deplorable, their future is bleak, and marriage and children are not important.” Dennis Prager
Prager begins this editorial with the question, “Why are so many people, especially young people, depressed, unhappy, and angry?” He believes that current condemnation of essential American social values is leaving people with little reason to discover a sense of meaning and purpose for life.
“You Can Be Anyone You Want to Be”
I was raised on the optimistic notion that “I could be anyone I wanted to be.” Now at 5’8” we know that it is highly unlikely I could have been a professional basketball player. But that was not what my mom had in mind, is it? Her intention was to encourage me to seek out things I truly loved to do and things I was good at, and then pursue those options as my purpose in life.
I find Prager’s quote above extraordinarily disturbing. Our values and beliefs are not only being questioned; they are also being critiqued as nonsense, evil, deplorable, bleak, and unimportant. Where in the world does that leave us except without meaning and purpose… and maybe seven a bit of self-disdain for harboring such apparently ludicrous ideas about God, country, marriage, and the future in general.
Higher Powers and Higher Values
Alcoholics Anonymous nails it on “the first step” when they suggest that we all need something larger than ourselves to strive toward and lean on. America once boasted of attempting to honor such values and many people strived to attain them. Those are the things, I believe, that made America great. A place here you could be a better person, both personally and socially.
I have read it was said (maybe or maybe not) by Aristotle, that “the purpose of every human being is to contribute to the value of society.” And what was the American ideal if not demonstrated by the generosity of one to another? Now, did we get a bit deep into self-service? Yes! And we are paying the price right now.
But “let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.”
We all must have a place to serve, a self to develop, and a deity to look for guidance and even assistance. This is where we find “a reason” for living. This is the heart of meaning and purpose.
Service, Self-Development, and God
The Meaning of Life
Photo courtesy of Marcio Binow Da Silva at istockphoto