Summary of First Thursday discussions Nov. 7th 2019 and Jan. 2nd 2020
The story of a 10-yr old boy who claimed that his ambition was to become a drug lord https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-50317250 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7656687/Boy-aged-TEN-dreams-County-Lines-drug-dealer.html provoked a discussion about the ideals offered to young people and the pressures put on them in society today.
In the not too distant past young people could be assured of a job and therefore a place in society. But today, with advances in technology etc, this is no longer the case. In a free market jobs are created only if they are profitable to an employer. There are many “unprofitable” (by that standard) jobs that need to be done, but they can only be funded by taxation- and today’s society demands low levels of taxation. The solution is not to “return” to a romanticised version of the “horse and plough”, when the need for labour was plentiful, but to work out how a highly technical society and economy can involve and serve all its people, without excluding large groups of individuals.
At the same time advertising and social media put pressure on young people to conform to standards of beauty, fashion, and status, while support for youth services has been drastically cut, leaving many vulnerable to criminal gangs. The normal “rebelliousness” and desire to form distinct cultural groups felt by most (though not all) young people can lead to alienation, with many others claiming that “the word ‘no’ is no longer understood by today’s young”, or that University is merely an excuse for parties and riots. (Forgetting that much the same things were said about eg London apprentices in the 17th century, and even in Roman times).
Secure early years relationships are obviously crucial for future development, but it is unrealistic to expect all family situations to succeed in this, and unfair to blame isolated and often struggling family units when problems arise. The proverb “it takes a whole village to bring up a child” is perhaps one that our society needs to translate into our present urban setting.
Colossians 2:20 (in one of the morning readings) talks about “the elemental spirits of the universe” which can all too easily dominate and control human life if we allow them to do so. Part of God’s creation, they cannot be intrinsically evil, but can easily become damaging if we allow them to take first place, rather than be controlled by love and justice. Sexuality, the need to belong to a group, national identity, the search for security and prosperity are all examples of these “powers”, which are essentially good and creative until misused for destructive ends.