Natural Values: The Unnatural Decade

Nela & Boris at Lighthouse Point complex - Collingwood, Ontario (August 2nd, 2008)We have previously discussed natural values, and the time has come to continue that discussion. Natural values, just to refresh our memories, are, as formulated by my friend Shaun Connell, logical, non contradictory values. Essentially, having natural values means that you have your priorities in the right order. Unnatural values, on the other hand, are values that are irrational, such as valuing pleasure above people, because people preclude pleasure, and so people should be valued more highly than pleasure.

In recent history, a new stage in life has been introduced to the cultural norm. A hundred years ago, you were either considered a child or an adult, there was nothing in between. Nowadays, however, we have the teenager.

What exactly defines a teenager, and why do I consider the teenage years to be based upon unnatural values? With regard to the first question, a teenager is a young adult who has reached a stage in life where our culture expects him or her to be irresponsible, rebellious, and foolish. The answer to the second question is a little more ambiguous.

When you look at what teens spend their time doing, you may realize why I say that this decade of most people’s lives is unnatural. Although teens may spend a lot of time at school, a large part of that is spent “socializing.” At home, many teens spend massive amounts of time doing things such as watching television and playing video games. They also expend magnanimous effort into dating and relationships, even though they are not anywhere near ready to seriously be thinking about marriage.

Instead of looking down the road, preparing to become employees, husbands and wives, parents, and generally responsible adults, teens spend their time trying to entertain themselves, with often very little regard to the future. Since the invention of the teenager, it is as if an entire portion of the population has decided to put their lives on hold for a decade, and that is irresponsible.

I do not think that it is a stretch to say that people should value financial and emotional stability over entertainment. Nor do I think that it is a stretch to say that they should value self control and character over living in a state guided primarily by feelings, passions, and re-activeness. The creation of the “teenager” didn’t liberate young adults, it laid waste to one of the most important phases in a person’s life. It didn’t provide freedom, it created something unnatural, something irrational.

The largest driving factor in the creation of the teenager was education. However, education doesn’t come too high on most teenager’s priority lists. Having a more highly educated population may be a good thing, but in pursuing that, we have created a stage in life that often is used to develop bad habits, irresponsibility, and laziness.

Even so, the situation is not lost. Parents, teachers, and even teens can work to reverse this trend. Instead of playing into the cultural expectations they can raise the bar for their children, students, and peers. By raising the bar, perhaps this stage in life could become something more beneficial.

I’m not trying to condemn fun, hanging out, or socializing, but I do think that we need to spend more time doing things to prepare ourselves for the future. By being prepared, we will be more ready to grab the bull by the horns in the future. Let’s stop focusing on the short term and start thinking about the big picture. Let’s get our priorities straight.

Discussion — No responses