|Young Men these days.|
Time and again in human history the excesses of society must be addressed. As the tides of over-indulgence take hold and bubble into the grizzly morning afters of post-modernism, lifestyles of stupefied putrefaction must give way to temperance movements. What is temperance? It means “self-restraint in action.” Or put more simply; self control, living in a “moderate” manner.
I would submit to you that we, young people today, are an unrestrained generation. Though far be it from me or us to take responsibility for the whole of the generation. We can only determine our individual actions. Though often through doing so, and taking hopeful new actions, we inspire others to do the same. And historic temperance movements are formed.
The excesses of our generation are possibly the most severe of any generation in human history. We have access to and are exposed to more temptations and indulgences than any other group of people in history. We find ourselves addicted to pleasure, which might be the over-arching theme of all other excesses.
To think of the excesses, they include so many things: drugs, alcohol, television, sweet foods, coffee, movies, internet, social media, prescription mental health supplements, performance enhancing drugs, pornography, wealth, power, influence, social media presence, popularity in the secular as well as the religious realms, sex addiction, relationship addiction, codependency, video games, adrenaline-rush activities, and so many other things. That’s not to say all of these things are evil! They are not. Some are. Some are not. Our excessive application of such things can cause them to become problematic. So we have to be aware of how we’re intaking the various partitions of life.
I’m not raising these concerns to shame you. No, not at all. But to raise your awareness of and consideration for these woes of excess. Even if none of these plague you, they certainly could. The temptation to excess is often stronger than we might realize. Which is why we see young people overdosing on drugs. Which is why we see obesity at record highs. Which is why preventable concerns like diabetes and heart disease are at the top of the preventable deaths list. Not to mention suicide, which is rising in teens.
We are weighted down by many pleasures. Now we indulge in these pleasures with the assumption that they will bring satisfaction and happiness in life. But that is not the case. We wake often post-indulging from theses excesses to find ourselves in the grizzly morning after.
You know the feeling I’m talking about, don’t you? That exhausted, indulged, dirty feeling. As if you’d just defecated on yourself, after eating a large cheese pizza, playing video games all night, 8-10 beers, ten bowls of the pot, and you feel yucky. You feel splayed out on the floor, as if you were a puddle of muchness.
Too muchness. Pleasure, as pleasurable as it can be, once pushed to it’s limits tends to give way to general dissatisfaction and increasing melancholy. At least that’s been my experience. You feel run thin. Exhausted. As a friend of mine once remarked, laying back in exhaustion and emptiness after eating a large pizza: “I’m all GMO’d out man.”
In my work with the Salvation Army I meet and have ample time to observe homeless. As I observe, I sometimes think to myself that many of the people I encounter are products of this consumer-indulgent society; as if they were cast aside, those along the edges who get tossed outside the blender bowl and must be propped up and helped back in.
Many are just down on their luck, many have issues that they haven’t addressed and many get their lives straightened out. But there is always a population that we affectionately refer to as “chronically homeless.” Which is actually a HUD definition, but I digress. The chronically homeless don’t want to improve their situation and look to game the system. Though many are quite capable of overcoming their obstacles. They don’t really want to. In particular are the younger ones. We have a rotating homeless shelter that switches week by week through the churches in the area to provide a safe place for the homeless during the brutal winters of upper-northern Michigan. And I watch these young guys, usually between 19-26, and they are perpetually dissatisfied. They are perpetually troubled. They are perpetually huffing and puffing, they are exhausted, and splayed out on the floor, hung-over from the excesses of over-pleasurified stupefaction. I don’t seek to judge them. I only know this because I was once just the same as they are. I was exhausted and broken from consumerism and constant indulgence.
For many young men these days, this is a way of life. For me it was a way of life, before God changed my story. I played computer games, I played video games, I drank beers when I could get them, and go to parties. I tried to sleep with girls I thought were attractive. My goal was pleasure. Honestly, it really was. I was a hedonist in practice. Slam triple Cs, drink beers, get the scripts from the doctor, play videogames, go to a party, game after girls, and possibly, maybe, work a part time job, and live in moms basement. That is the lifestyle. And it’s empty. It’s dead. It’s exhausting. It’s unfulfilling. It’s lazy. It’s pathetic.
From my perspective it seems to be a growing trend. More and more young men look this way. Their girlfriends drive them around. They’re jobless, directionless and goalless. Our society is beginning to give way, to crumple at the edges, just slightly, here and there, because young men ought be temperate, disciplined, wise, and altruistic, but instead they are sex junkies, drug users, video-game-aholics, pleasure lovers and womanizers. And it’s bad for society. Yet it’s even worse for them.
In short, we are in need of a new temperance movement. Any powerful movement that can help reshape the character of a nation always, always, always begins with one thing: small groups of young men. It’s true. Every revival, great awakening, and enlightenment has started with groups of young men determined to live differently. That’s what we need. We need a new temperance movement. We need a new program of action for young men to champion, to set aside the carnival pleasures and become all God intends for them to be.
That’s all big talk, but it has to start with me. It has to start with me and you battling our demons. It has to start on an individual basis, with me and you declaring open war against the excesses in our lives. Four years and one month ago I declared open war on the drug addiction and alcoholism in my life. That was a hard battle to win, especially when all your troops are in concentration camps. But somehow the impossible revolution took shape, and today I’ve been free of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes for four years. The war continues, as I fight against lust, selfish desires, and the desire to be the center of attention. The battle continues as I fight my desire to be important and to be “somebody.” It isn’t easy. But it can be done.
Only in the power of God, in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, that’s the only thing that worked for me. That’s the only way I found to escape. Every other door was locked, every other option failed. But once that happened, I got to work on myself. I work hard today, as an intern in the Salvation Army. I work some 12 hour days, especially during Christmas. Yet you’d be amazed, just amazed how you feel after a day of hard work; you feel blessed. Sometimes I even dread my days off, because of the way I feel sitting home in my apartment all day. Or maybe it just reminds me how pathetic I used to be. Eventually I think my generation, millennials will finally become sick and tired of being sick and tired. The bankruptcy of these material pleasures, of videogames, pornography, drugs, and drink must fade to the desire for temperance. These pleasures must fade as they are proven bankrupt to the desire to live a worthwhile and meaningful life of character and virtue. I really do believe that. Because it happened to me.
Could we be on the verge of a new temperance movement? I believe so. Young people are increasingly fed up with the modernist and post-modernist mindsets of materialism and “do whatever feels right” hippie BS. The hope for the future lies with millennials. If millennials can wake up and realize that generation X has screwed us over and brainwashed us into thinking their socialist hippie druggy ideals are so great, then we can come to realize that the traditionalists had it right. And we can restore western civilization to the place of values, character, and principles that it was always meant to be.
With the modernist and post-modernist generations in power, we can see how corrupt they truly are. But I don’t think we necessarily need a “return” to the traditionalist mindset. I think we need a skeptical, yet reasonably faithful generation, Christian, principled, set on rooting out corruption, conservative, temperate, yet willing to embrace new applications, new technologies, and new ways of applying timeless conservative and Christian values, while remaining entirely staunch and rock ribbed on those core principles. A modulating, adjusting application of principle and embrace of new methods, while never swaying from or adjusting the timeless principles of freedom, liberty, constitutionalism, and biblical instructions on truth.
Will it take a miracle? Yes it will. My generation is pilled and driven mad with the half-baked philosophies of pothead hipster university professors, consumerist society, Hollywood depravity, and prevailing naturalist ideologies. But there is hope, because friends, God is active in human history. God is swaying and molding time and history as we speak. So there is always hope. Time and again the secular world has been astonished how faith and Christianity has risen from what they thought were the ashes of it’s defeat. Yet faith, family, principles, and liberty always tend to rise up when just a small, tiny minority dares to believe that God will draw the hopes from their hearts and magnify them anew across the face of western civilization to build the dreams into a new hope for a generation.
Build it today, believe in the impossible. And tread softly, for you tread on our dreams.
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