Thursday, April 20, 2017

About This Lack of Gratitude Thing...

Returning home after walking my regular course one afternoon last fall, I came across an unusual scene.  In front of the Christian school that I pass by were two men I know who work there. One was kneeling beside the sewer opening at the curb while the other was actually lying on the pavement and trying to reach down inside.  A nicely-dressed woman was standing nearby.

I stopped to help and discovered they were trying to retrieve a schoolbook that had somehow fallen down into the sewer and which was lying, safe and dry for the moment, on a bit of concrete shelf.  Being dressed down in shorts and T-shirt and already dirty, I offered my help and got down beside my friend.  Though taller and having a longer reach, I couldn’t get to the book either even though I got down as far as I could into the sewer opening.  Even using a pole with a gripping device wouldn’t work.

Well, we worked at it quite awhile before my friend thought about possibly prying the manhole cover from its rust-encrusted position so that he could drop inside.  It wasn’t easy and the iron cover proved heavy and cumbersome – but it worked.  Once we had that done, it took just seconds for him to retrieve the book and but another minute to maneuver the manhole cover back into place.  Our efforts had produced a successful conclusion and, I don’t know about the others, I felt a wonderful sense of achievement.

But the most notable detail of this story was one that wasn’t wonderful at all for that was the inaction of the young girl whose book had been saved.  During the whole time of the adventure – 15 minutes since I had showed up and who knows how long before that  – she merely sat in a nearby car, messing with her phone.  It was the girl’s mother who had stood alongside watching our efforts in her daughter’s behalf. The mom was encouraging and very grateful.  But, even when the book was retrieved, the girl herself displayed no gratitude, not even interest. The mother was embarrassed when she finally had to direct her daughter to roll down the window to acknowledge the favor.  The girl let the car window come down, took the book from her mom’s hand, gave us a slight and quick smile and…zip…up went the window again and she returned her attention to her phone. The mom repeated her own thanks and assured us that her daughter was grateful too.  The evidence of that, however, could hardly been weaker.

I shook hands with the other guys and thanked them for their efforts in behalf of the student.  I thanked them too for letting me be a part of the project for, when all was said and done, it had been kinda’ fun. But, as I walked the rest of the way home, I thought about how sad an example this presented of modern youth, even in Christian circles.  Self-centered. Ungrateful.  A haughty indifference to elders – even when beholden to them.  Indifference to parental expectations or feelings. And being so tied to “social media” that true social responsibilities are ignored.
I wonder — will those of us who are older finally recognize the trouble our youth are in (and, through them, the whole culture) because of the counter-productive polices we’ve practiced in the schools, the church youth programs, parenting priorities, and the tragic extent that we have allowed kids to be engulfed in technology, fad and fashion, and Hollywood media? And, even if we recognize the situation, will we begin to take steps to rebuild among our youth respect, responsibility, a work ethic, humility, real life skills, rites of passage, and a personal devotion to both the precepts and the power of biblical Christianity?

Make no mistake, this is a critical matter, one that must be seriously and continually addressed. If not, the future of Christian culture (short of heaven) is bleak indeed.