There were two young men living in America. One came from Canada. The other from Australia. One was a high school dropout. The other was a college student on scholarship. One was a television star. The other was an athlete. One died at the age of 31 of a heroin overdose. The other died at the age of 22 of a bullet in the back. The death of the first one was immediately covered by the news media. The death of the second got very little attention. One of these young men was Cory Monteith. The other was Christopher Lane.
Every needless death is a tragedy. It causes those of us who believe in God to wonder why He allows these to happen. That is an honest question and one for which most of us have no compelling answer. It is something that troubles me about the deaths of both these young men.
But while I have now heard some commentary from our left wing about the reason that Christopher Lane was murdered by three teenagers – according to them it’s because we don’t have sufficiently restrictive gun laws – I have heard nothing about Cory Monteith’s suicide from heroin other than outpourings of sympathy for him and his girl friend.
Sadly the underlying reason that these two men died has little to do with illegal firearms or illicit drugs. Those were merely the means to the end. The cause of both deaths was the same. That is that we have embraced a culture that has turned its back on traditional values and replaced them with self-gratification.
We have reinvented the 1960’s whose mantra was, “Sex, drugs and rock and roll.” Today we’ve modified that to, ”Sex, drugs, rap, hip hop and murder.” In the ‘60’s those who took up the credo were to be found in Haight Ashbury or Woodstock. They were a fringe element and represented relatively few Americans’ attitudes. Today, that equation has changed.
Those who are the self-gratified are the children and grandchildren of the Baby Boomers. We called them Gen X and Gen Y – but we should have named them Gen Degenerate. Thankfully, there are exceptions within these groups – people who were fortunate enough to be born into families that emphasized those old fashioned traditional values and where their children heard and respected that message. But if empirical observation is any guide, their percentage of this collective is small.
I thought I would look at one expression of our traditional Judaeo-Christian values, the Ten Commandments and look at how our attitudes toward them has changed from when I learned them as a child and how today’s children (and adults) observe them.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
What are today’s gods? The latest electronic gadget; going to the hippest night club; promiscuous and indiscriminate sexual relations; getting dope and getting high; the list goes on …
2. You shall make no idols.
See Hollywood celebs, NBA and NFL superstars and rock stars.
3. You shall not take the name of the lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Most of us live in a 24/7 world and one day is pretty much like any other one. Besides, Sunday is meant to worship at the altar of pro football – and just so we can include our Jewish citizens and Seventh Day Adventists – on Saturdays we have college ball.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
In order to honor them you have to know who they are. With our exploding illegitimacy rates that is a challenge for many of our children.
6. You shall not murder.
See the opening of this piece, the daily newspaper and the tabloids.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
No comment necessary.
8. You shall not steal.
See convenience stores armed robberies, welfare fraud, and federal government waste.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
In the absence of any higher power to whom we must answer, the import and consequences of taking an oath are virtually non-existent. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” essentially has no meaning in a society which doesn’t recognize absolute values and where everything is relative.
10. You shall not covet.
Whether it’s the latest phone, the hottest gym shoes or anything else that we can get consumers to buy, corporate marketing strategies appeal directly to the consumer’s sense of greed and lust and teach us that “It’s cool to have the latest trendy thing and so gross to be wearing or using something that is out of date.”
Perhaps I’m no different than Gen Degen and am merely a product of my upbringing – or lack of it. I have to admit that possibility. And I have to be honest and say that I have broken a commandment or two during the course of my life.
But perhaps the difference is that I knew that I had done something that violated the values which I had been taught, felt guilty and tried to reform. I was ashamed of my behavior and that shame helped me avoid, or at least minimize, further repetitions.
If our children are not taught that there are standards and values, then it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we live in an “anything goes” society. And there will be more reports about self-inflicted deaths like Cory Monteith’s and mindless murders like Chris Lane’s. To me, the second of these is the true tragedy – both for the victim, his friends and family, and for all of us who hope to live peacefully in a civilized society.