Dear young friend,
I have watched your protests against gun violence and could not help but recall my own youth.
As a child of the Sixties, I was born of a generation that also had protests. I recall my desires to change the world and make it a better place by challenging everything. I remember my frustration in the face of a world in chaos.
Now I am of the older generation, and you are on the streets. However, matters are much worse. I hope these words might warn against the repetition of a tragic mistake.
A Well-Worn Path
It was my generation that helped unleash the violence that you find in your schools, culture and lives. My generation produced your generation. You are following in our footsteps. You are the later phase of a process my generation began. Don’t continue on this path.
It was my generation that redefined freedom as “doing your own thing.” We overturned society norms, morals and manners in an attempt to achieve this freedom. However, this quest only made us a self-centered “Me Generation,” demanding everything instantly regardless of the consequences. It filled us with resentments when the world failed to bend to our needs.
We tried to make love free, and it came at the high price of shattering families and destroying individual lives.
Today, many of the younger generations are taking our mistake to new extremes. Today, it is no longer “doing your own thing,” but “being your own thing” since you can identify as whatever you perceive yourself to be. Anything can be the cause of resentment, triggering instant snowflake meltdowns. Tragically “being your own thing” today can now include acting out fantasies… or killing others.
Smashing the Restraints of Violence
It was my generation that looked for a world of peace and “free” peace. To obtain this goal, we destroyed family structures, sexual morals and marriage. We tried to make love free, and it came at the high price of shattering families and destroying individual lives (including those not yet born).
Far from producing love and peace, this shattered world is engendering bitter fruits in a society that is coming apart with great violence. You can see this in the sexual harassment scandals. It is found in the political landscape that is polarized and fragmented. It finds tragic expression in the lives of lonely individuals who seek revenge upon society by killing other students.
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We have violence in society because our culture is immersed in it. Once my generation adopted an anything-goes attitude toward culture, it unleashed the forces of violent films, pornography, frenetic substance abuse and video games that you now see and suffer. You are given false role models that glorify this violence and make it glamorous and popular.
Your generation feels threatened by violence because we have no defense against it. We have torn down the structures of family, community and faith that once protected us from it. We have smashed the rules that restrained violence and kept society safe. We have excluded God, the source of all good and order, from the popular culture.
Time for a Return to Order
Let’s both reject the premises that brought us here. Now is not the time to repeat the sixties, but to reject them.
And so as youth nationwide gather to demand action against gun violence, I would ask you to consider the cause of this violence, not only its tragic consequences. Let’s both reject the premises that brought us here.
Now is not the time to repeat the Sixties, but to reject them. Let us join together to declare the Sixties over. They have brought us a catastrophe, full of violence and politically correct intolerance. People are tired of its old rhetoric and superficiality that has led us to our broken times. They yearn for order.
Now is the time for a return to order — but not the false materialistic order of the fifties.
It is time to find our roots and go back to what Russel Kirk called those “permanent things,” those calm norms of courage, duty, courtesy, justice, and charity that owe their existence and authority not to a self-centered “Me Generation,” but to a loving and transcendent God.
Just something to think about.
All the best,
A Baby Boomer Looking to the Future
P.S. Please excuse the long explanation. I had no time to reduce the above considerations into a single tweet.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.