“God, you see your children growing up in an
unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways
give more life than the ways of the world, and that following
you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to
take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance
for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you,
and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.” – A Prayer for Young Persons, Book of Common Prayer
These are challenging times for young people. In fact, I would say there is unquestionably a real crisis with young people in the world. Many live in deplorable circumstances of poverty, lacking necessities even for basic survival. There are thousands who are fleeing their homes due to brutal dictatorial and or gang violence. Others are experiencing great oppression based on their religion, race, ethnicity or country of origin. And regardless of their neighborhood many live with a constant anxiety that going to a school, mall or movie theater will quickly erupt in gun violence.
The consequences on the mind, body and soul of a young person living this reality are immense. Fear, anxiety, depression and isolation are constant companions of a significant percentage of our young people. In response, many turn to exceedingly unhealthy behavior, including harming themselves and or harming others.
The vast majority of those who have engaged in mass shootings are younger people. The vast majority of gangs and specifically those who commit violent acts are young. Racism, homophobia and violence against women are prevalent in the youth culture. And “basic bullying” behavior is common place in most gatherings of young people.
After reading the above three paragraphs my bet is you have some level of feeling overwhelmed. That actually is both an understandable and appropriate response. However, that response must only be our initial response. Our young people need the adults in the world now more than ever – all adults. The only way for our young people to begin to experience a healthier existence is if every adult commits to take on some way of helping and supporting one or a group of young people.
There are no shortage of options. Schools, churches, Big Brothers and Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, foster care, YMCA, affinity groups such as sports, music, arts and other youth related non profits all need more adults. Or maybe it’s just the kid next door, down the street or a friend of your child that needs a loving, nurturing, healthy adult in their life.
The level of challenges our young people are experiencing is a real crisis, but it is not insurmountable in its healing transformation if every adult commits to take responsibility for the care, nurture and support of young people.
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
To put the mantle of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless – Maya Angelou Continue