Several months ago, I was speaking with a highly intelligent cab driver in another state, who noted that people were getting too touchy about everything. He is a Christian, a convert from Islam, who told me that he could no longer talk about any topics in the cab, as the vast majority of people he drove on long trips which was my case, would take offense at any political, religious, or moral topic.
His ability to reason was part of his conversion.
We discussed this phenomenon and decided that there exists a huge difference in generations regarding the ability to discuss something or even, to be corrected.
This fine man of about forty-something noted that few could stand being challenged in their ideas, and that many people were full of demons, unexplained hang-ups on certain topics, which ended conversations.
As a mature Christian, coming from a background where nothing could be discussed in open conversations concerning his former faith, he noted that opinions seemed more important than truth to people, and agendas clouded people's minds about wanting to find out the truth.
Yesterday, a friend of mine, Mr. B., told me the same thing, which reminded me of this former discussion. He said that in some discussions, one touches demons in the souls of others, who then cannot respond rationally.
Mr. B. said that when one brings up a topic and someone is stuck in an agenda and refuses to listen to rational discourse, that person falls back into opinion, rather than reasonable openness. For example, if a person is a practicing homosexual and one wants to discuss the possibility of this lifestyle being unnatural or even against the natural law of God, there seems to be a strong resistance to even be open to the truth. There can be no discussion. Why?
All topics should be able to be discussed, and logic should be the common ground for discussions. But, here is the problem according to my two friends above-no one has been taught in the past twenty or so years to really look at various points of view about a subject and few people believe in absolute truth.
In addition, most people do not want to break out of their own fairy tale land of comfort in order to pursue the truth. Sloth is the name of the game.
Another friend said exactly the same thing as Mr. B. Ms. K reminded me that when we were in school, we learned to do research by using the library card catalogs and journals. We had to use research skills to find out sources for our papers. We could not use merely our own unsubstantiated feelings or opinions. The instructors in our various subjects, whether history, English, or the sciences, even in high school, demanded that we get experts and peer-reviewed articles to substantiate our viewpoints.
Now, everyone thinks they are entitled to uneducated guesses, or just their own viewpoints without any recourse to study or reading.
Too many young people refuse, for example, to look up articles on line on the Catholic positions, including the various sites which present the encyclicals, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
There is no excuses for ignorance if one is online, yet ignorance remains. Why?
It seems that we are witnessing a large portion of society who just do not want to admit that their worlds of completely made-up, false comfort may be coming to an end. Too many people do not want to face the truth about moral or religious issues.
This type of chosen ignorance is not the same as involuntary or invincible ignorance. When information is available and people do not avail themselves of this information, only two conclusions may be reached and these are that sloth makes them lazy, or that lust makes them complacent.
Sloth is one of the greatest sins of the new group of people who refuse to read or study unless they absolutely are forced to do so. The idea of learning for the joy of learning seems to be fading in our society. And, when asked to move out of their comfort zones of prejudices and agendas, these people refuse to admit that they will not read, study or discuss.
What is going on? When I was a student, we sat around as kids for hours discussing life, the universe and everything. We had discussions on math, science, history, literature, movies, music, art and so on. Is this happening anywhere?
Religious discussions seemed very popular when I was in high school, with Lutheran kids wanting to share their ideas with the Methodists and the Catholics and so on. No kids talked about money or shopping, as those topics were boring. We were idea kids, and we wanted to learn about what made each other religious or non-religious. We wanted to know.
Now, as my cab driver stated, one cannot even bring up interesting topics without getting the lazy answers from the “I don't know and I don't want to find out” types, or from the “This is too hard, and I want to avoid confrontation” types, or the “I take offense as to what you are saying” types.
But, discussion is not always confrontation. In fact, the give and take of discussion should be exciting. It should be, primarily, the sharing and the mutual discovery of Truth. Ah, but there is the rub.
Do people really want to find out the truth about anything, themselves, others, the state of the world, the state of wars, and so on?
Too many young people are chasing after false dreams of various versions of the so-called American Dream, which no longer exists in reality. Too many young people really want only lives of things, including treating people as things. Too many only want comforts and not challenges.
When a civilization loses the desire for knowledge, it is dead, not decaying, but dead.
It is a fact that this younger generation is not as intelligent as the previous ones. Father Ripperger calls this devolution-that we are as humans getting more and more stupid. Why?
Sin is the answer. Sin makes one stupid. Sin makes one stop asking the basic questions of life, like “Why am I here?” or “What if the goal of a human being's life?” When a people stop asking or seeking after the meanings of things or of systems, it means they have chosen lust, greed, vanity, pride, avarice, hatred, sloth over Truth. Sin deadens the imagination and fills the soul with trivia.
My cabby friend noted that people got upset about everything, were hyper-touchy because they did not want to be challenged about life.
Guess what? We are all about to be challenged as never before...when the dollar explodes, when there is war which entails a draft, when persecution of the Catholic Church becomes enshrined in law, many people will be challenged to leave their comfort zones of the denial of absolute truth.
Knowledge is there for the taking. We live in an era where more knowledge has been available to the common man and woman than ever before. What took years of hard research and work to find can be found with one Google entry. Nothing is arcane, or few things are.
There is no excuse for ignorance. For those who want to remain ignorant of God's ways, His plan for salvation, His hierarchy of morals and laws, the days are coming when they will have to make a choice, with or without knowledge.
I refuse to spoon-feed. I never did as a teacher. I taught my students how to do research, and most importantly, how to think. I taught them how to discuss rationally important questions. They left my classes changed because I challenged them to leave the comfortable areas of opinion and laziness. They grew up, as learning how to think marks the boy from the man, the girl from the woman.
Teaching people who do not want to learn how to think can be a real difficulty. But, God has a way of doing that. It is called tribulation. The trials of the Hebrew People in the Old Testament were punishment for sin, but also wake-up calls to think through the messages of repentance proclaimed over and over by the prophets, most of whom were murdered by their own people.
The prophets were killed because people did not want to listen and think about their sins.
To repent, one must stop and think, reflect, learn, be willing to learn more about one's self and God.
Without self-knowledge and knowledge of God, one is doomed to stupidity cocooned in pride.
I pity the young ones who have never learned how to think. I suggest a long retreat with the guidance of St. Ignatius and the examination of Scripture and one's own life.
But, those who are content with trivia and content with agendas will not step out into unknown territory, which is what the spiritual world is.
Those who are willing to step out of their fanciful lives of comfort will find God, as He is Truth and He wants to be found. Those who do not, sadly, will perish and never live in the glory to which God has called each one of us, the glory of knowing God, Who is Love.
There are many reasons why people do not want to learn-pride being the first reason. Sloth, as I noted above, another. Today, I was watching a manager in a shop get upset because she had trained a person to do something, a simple task, and that person just did not do what she was told. Did she not listen? Was she not capable of understanding? This manager has gone through many, many employees in her shop and she cannot find “suitable people”. Why?
I thought about this and realized that all the young people she had hired and fired over the past two months, all about the ages between 18-28, had never learned three basic things-the first being obedience. They just did not know how to follow orders and obey, because no one had ever demanded that they obey anyone from little on.
The second reason is that these young people never had to take responsibility for any job at home. They never had to “do” anything, had no standards to meet in school, had no real challenges of meeting someone's expectations. The third reason is that they had never learned to think through a problem from the beginning to the end, even a simple one. They simply had to be told over and over what to do, as in spoon-feeding, not having to figure something out on their own.
I pity this manager, but she and others in charge of personnel, who have told me that they cannot find “suitable help”, have a problem on their hands which is huge-the devolution of the human being to the point where these young people simply cannot think. I saw one young man leave work yesterday and he yelled at a driver in front of his car, who was going slowly in order to find a street behind the shop. This young man was completely out of control of his emotions. The other driver was being careful and this young man was so impatient to leave, he could not control his outburst, which was totally unjustified. I witnessed all this from the sidewalk.
Living in the emotions rather than reason spells decay for a culture. This young man will not make it in the world, as he cannot keep his negative emotions to himself. He cannot reason his feelings into order. He will be the next one fired from the shop, as he irritates customers.
So, what we have is a young man who cannot control himself, who does not care about those around him, who cannot live in a society where manners and decorum when waiting on customers is necessary for the smooth running of a shop.
I have seen the coming and going of at least twelve employees in two months. Are there so many young people who cannot learn, cannot control themselves, and who take offense easily? My cabby friend would just shake his head and say, “Told you so.”