Friday, September 4, 2009

21st Century Breakdown? Yeah, no kidding.

“They all walk with their heads down, never make eye contact, have an expression of stone on their faces,” lamented a friend of mine last night regarding his fellow students at the local University. “Everyone seems so hopeless.”

I share his concern.

His concern triggered my memory. A few months ago I remember watching an episode of Saturday Night Live. The musical guest was Green Day, performing a song that disturbed me to my core:

Violence is an energy
Against the enemy
Well, violence is an energy

Bringing on the fury
The choir infantry
Revolt against the honor to obey

Overthrow the effigy
The vast majority
Well, burning down the foreman of control

Silence is the enemy
Against your urgency
So rally up the demons of your soul

Do you know the enemy?
Do you know the enemy?
Well, gotta know the enemy

Anyone who owns a copy of Green Day’s album titled 21st Century Breakdown is listening to song lyrics such as this...chaotic, dark, angry, violent, bitter, befuddled, insolent. 

This is not a call to censor artists, because that has no effect other than increasing sales. Bands that peddle despair have a pretty large fan base among teens and young adults for a reason, though. They’re offering empathy and an answer—a wrong answer that can be easily discarded by a person who has been properly formed, but to a teen or young adult with next to nothing by way of real formation? How do parents explain to teens or young adults what this message is really all about, when they have done little or nothing to form them all along?

I have numerous friends that are CCD teachers, and I was involved in Teen Ministry at my parish for several years. Our biggest complaint is lack of parental participation. More than a few parents do not take an interest in the curriculum offered, don’t show up to special functions or retreats, don’t bring their children to Mass regularly or even attend themselves, and other than nominally don’t truly live out their Catholic faith. They literally drop their kid off on the church steps and speed away. It’s no wonder that our parish programs for the youth have limited success in keeping our kids Catholic.

Parents who have not actively participated in the forming of their children’s faith, for whatever reason, have done their children a grave disservice. One or two hours in a CCD class or youth program can’t combat 24/7 constant bombardment from television, radio, the internet and video games.

What scares me the most is how many kids have this very song in their CD player right now on repeat? Because that's what's forming them.

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